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How the Stage is Set

As humans, we have two distinctive perceptual features, and two special skills to complement them. The features are our ability to perceive Space and Time, which in varying degrees are shared by all biological entities. But we humans are granted special gifts: the ability to bind space and time, and move information across them. This document, for example, is the product of both of these skills- as you, the reader are in a different time and location than I am as I write this. This communication binds a point in space and time, for as long as it might endure. Most of human endeavor throughout the ages has been directed toward increasing human mastery over space and time. And yet these dominant features of our very human nature sit at the borderline of utility and distraction. We take these perceptual features so fundamentally for granted that we only begin to notice them only when we develop the skill of turning them off through meditation, and transcending them through magick. The choice to pursue mysticism is choice to disconnect from the mass of our humanity and indeed from humankind, in order to pursue a greater end. It is the choice to commit to the world of Ideals rather than present realities. To choose the path of Magick is to go beyond that, and make the Ideal manifest in the world.

The stage of the Mass, the Temple, is a location in space-time built in a choice: to unify the world of Ideals with the mundane world. To accomplish this, we use the skills of of space-time binding to overcome the limitation of the perceptual world, and form a link with both the Ideal world and those who have practiced the Mass and worked in the current before us. The Temple is the physical representation of this link, and as such is built upon the map of the cosmos, the Qabbalistic Tree of Life. It is a foundational principle of Magick that “As Above, so Below”, and the Tree of life is one representation of this; functionally, it is a Universal Map, capable of describing all things microcosmic and macrocosmic alike. We can map to the ten Sephiroth of the Tree all manner of stuff, both sacred and profane — psychological traits, planets, letters, material concerns, colors, bikinis vs. boxers, deities and angels, cities and nations, and so on unto the point of overload. One of the functions of setting the Temple of the Mass is to open all of these possibilities to us, but to reduce the set to it’s most basic elements- to imply the richness of the Tree, without displaying it’s complication.

So, let’s take a look at the layout of the Temple.

I: Of The Furnishings of the Temple


IN THE EAST, that is, in the direction of Boleskine, which is situated on the South-Eastern shore of Loch Ness in Scotland, two miles east of Foyers, is a shrine or High Altar. Its dimensions should be 7 feet in length, 3 feet in breadth, 44 inches in height. It should be covered with a crimson altar-cloth, on which may be embroidered fleur-de-lys in gold, or a sunblaze, or other suitable emblem.

On each side of it should be a pillar or obelisk, with countercharges in black and white.

Below it should be the dais of three steps, in black and white squares.

Above it is the super-altar, at whose top is the Stele of Revealing in reproduction, with four candles on each side of it. Below the stele is a place for The Book of the Law, with six candles on each side of it. Below this again is the Holy Graal, with roses on each side of it. There is room in front of the Cup for the Paten. On each side beyond the roses are two great candles.

All this is enclosed within a great Veil.

Forming the apex of an equilateral triangle whose base is a line drawn between the pillars, is a small black square altar, of superimposed cubes.

Taking this altar as the middle of the base of a similar and equal triangle, at the apex of this second triangle is a small circular font.

Repeating, the apex of a third triangle is an upright tomb.7


Thelemic East, by magickal fiat, is located in the direction of Boleskine house, which was owned by Aleister Crowley from 1899 to 1913. It was purchased by Crowley for the explicit purpose of conducting the Abramelin operation in order to attain the Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel. However, This attainment did not occur at Boleskine, but rather while he was traveling in China. Boleskine House nonetheless became the focal point of the Thelemic current when it housed Crowley’s replica of the Stéle of Revealing.

Thus, the location of Boleskine House is to be the Omphalos or Center of Power for Thelema, and is to continue as such for the duration of the Aeon of Horus, regardless of the physical presence of the Stèle or of the house itself. Thus, O.T.O. Lodges, Profess-Houses and Gnostic Mass Temples are ideally to be oriented towards Boleskine.8

For all ritual purposes within the Thelemic Current, the direction of Boleskine defines the relative position of East. This serves a pragmatic purpose within the structure of the Work: by using a specific location as the focal point of the current, rather than a more or less arbitrary direction, we create a lens through which to focus our energy. Of course, an East facing Temple represents an ideal situation, and it is rare for a Temple to be aligned with Thelemic East. In such situations, we accomplish this alignment sympathetically through the Temple’s own replica of the Stéle our link to the House of Thelema:

"But your holy place shall be untouched throughout the centuries: though with fire and sword it be burnt down & shattered, yet an invisible house there standeth, and shall stand until the fall of the Great Equinox; when Hrumachis shall arise and the double-wanded one assume my throne and place." -- Liber AL III:34.

The Tomb

While no specific description of the tomb is given, bar that it be upright, the form most commonly used is that of a dark shroud. It stands in the station of Malkuth, the mortal world. Malkuth is also called Shehkinah, the feminine principle of the Divine. As such, the Tomb serves as a symbolic womb from which Mankind is born, thereby gaining the privilege of seeking Unity with the Divine: "For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union."9 The Earth is to us womb and tomb, for without her, we do not live, and without life that which separates us from the Universe , we do not aspire. In the embrace of matter, we come to recognize that which we have been and will be part of.

The Font

The Font is placed at Yesod, Foundation, or more accurately, the firmament — the vault of the sky. Yesod is the beginning of aspiration: Mankind looking up to the sky and wanting to know; to take his place in the heavens among the stars, The first hint of the song of Nuit, the universal Lover, calling us to the bower, a distant hum, half-heard across the ages. The element of this altar is the Living Water of Baptism, which the Elohim caused to be separated from the material Waters of Malkuth. In passing through these Living Waters, we commit to belief, and the path of Will.

The Altar of Incense

The Altar of Incense is built of two superimposed cubes, built to the same formula as the central altar of the working circle. Crowley describes the function of this double cube altar in Book 4:

"The Altar is a double cube, which is a rough way of symbolizing the Great Work; for the doubling of the cube was one of the great problems of antiquity. The surface of this Altar is composed of ten squares. The top is Kether, and the bottom Malkuth. The height of the Altar is equal to the height above the ground of the navel of the Magician. The Altar is connected with the Ark of the Covenant, Noah’s Ark, the nave (navis, a ship) of the Church, and many other symbols of antiquity, whose symbolism has been well worked out in the an anonymous book called “The Canon”10 (Elkin Matthews), which should be studied carefully before constructing the Altar."

7. Liber XV, Crowley. Diagram from
8. The Kiblah, Sabazius X°
9. Liber AL I:29
10. This text can be found online, here: