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Initiation in the Aeon of the Child: The Inward Journey

Initiation in the Aeon of the Child: The Inward Journey

by J Daniel Gunther

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This book's primary focus is an understanding of the change to the formulas of Initiation brought about by the advent of the New Aeon--the Aeon of the Child--in 1904. It draws deeply from Jungian psychology, world mythology and religion, the teachings of Aleister Crowley, and the doctrines of the Mystery traditions. It explains how the revelations unique to this


This book's primary focus is an understanding of the change to the formulas of Initiation brought about by the advent of the New Aeon--the Aeon of the Child--in 1904. It draws deeply from Jungian psychology, world mythology and religion, the teachings of Aleister Crowley, and the doctrines of the Mystery traditions. It explains how the revelations unique to this stage of human evolution impact the work of the individual aspirant. Much of what is written here is revealed for the first time, with every attempt to do so in clear and precise language.

Editorial Reviews

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"J. Daniel Gunther provides a beautifully crafted description of the modern path of Initiation--the means by which Man becomes God. In my opinion, this is the most important original work to be published since the death of Aleister Crowley." -James Wasserman, author of In the Center of the Fire

"Initiation in the Aeon of the Child is the first publication of some of the oral instructions of the modern A...A..., the teaching order co-founded by Aleister Crowley. Gunther writes with clarity, authority and persuasive earnestness about recondite and difficult subjects. He employs copious illustrations to clarify his exposition. This is one of those rare books that rises, in some passages, to the level of transmitted doctrinal insight. It is clearly deserving of a place in the curricula of both A...A... and O.T.O., and it deserves to be welcomed and studied carefully by Thelemites of all persuasions." -Hymenaeus Beta, Frater Superior, Ordo Templi Orientis

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INITIATION In the Aeon of The Child


By J. Daniel Gunther


Copyright © 2009 J. Daniel Gunther
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-89254-599-5


Skeleton of a New Truth

Tremble ye, O Pillars of the Universe, for Eternity is in travail of a Terrible Child; she shall bring forth an universe of Darkness, whence shall leap forth a spark that shall put his father to flight.

Liber CDXVIII, 30th Aethyr, 1900 E.V.

The advent of the Aeon of Horus and the reception of the Book of the Law in 1904 signaled the beginning of a fundamental change in the evolution of mankind. The end of an existing Aeon produces staggering changes in consciousness. In the secular world, this kind of dynamic innovation is known as a "paradigm shift." The paradigm shift in 1904 was on the Universal Scale, and those who accept the Law of Thelema affirm that it was initiated by the Intelligences ruling this planet and its evolution. It heralded the end of the era of the Dying God and the supersession of IAO as the central formula of Initiation.

The term "Aeon" in the symbolism of Thelema is taken to signify great periods of time, traditionally considered as roughly 2,000 years each, that correspond to developmental landmarks in the history of mankind. The first of these great periods of which we have any evidence, is called the Aeon of Isis. This was the time of the Matriarchs, the great Mother Gods of which Isis may be considered the epitome. The period that succeeded it is conveniently called the Aeon of Osiris, the epoch of the Father Gods which include Osiris, Jehovah, Jesus and many others. One essential characteristic of the Aeon of Osiris was the mythology of the "Dying God" and its observation of the bloody sacrifice. The period in which we now live, is known as the Aeon of Horus, or the Aeon of the Child.

The era of the Dying God culminated in Christianity, the roots of which are to be found in Gnostic philosophy. The appearance of Gnosticism was, according to Carl Jung, a result of psychological law:

[Gnosticism] had to grow up at a time when the classical religions had become obsolete. It was founded on the perception of symbols thrown up by the unconscious individuation process which always sets in when the collective dominants of human life fall into decay. At such a time there is bound to be a considerable number of individuals who are possessed by archetypes of a numinous nature that force their way to the surface in order to form new dominants. This state of possession shows itself almost without exception in the fact that the possessed identify themselves with the archetypal contents of their unconscious, and, because they do not realize the role which is being thrust upon them is the effect of new contents still to be understood, they exemplify these concretely in their own lives, thus becoming prophets and reformers.... Thus Jesus became the tutelary image or amulet against the archetypal powers that threatened to possess everyone.

The archetypal power that indeed threatened the entire world was requiring nothing less than the descent into Hell: the unconscious of man himself.

By the turn of the twentieth century, the dominants of human life had dramatically fallen into decay once again. The scientific method, which had flowered despite all the attacks of the church, was rapidly reshaping the planet. Mankind was at last ready for the next step. This was initiated by the transmission of the Law of Thelema to mankind. It is codified in the threefold Book of Law received by Aleister Crowley in Cairo, Egypt in 1904 E.V. The genesis of the Law of Thelema is documented by Aleister Crowley in his autobiography and needs no further comment in this place. This next step was the birth of the Aeon of the Child, or as it is commonly called, The Aeon of Horus.

One significant difference in Jung's characterization of previous prophets from the Prophet of the New Aeon perhaps lies in Crowley's conscious recognition of the role that had been thrust upon him. This was doubtless necessary in order to prevent a perverted deification of the prophet and subsequent confusion of the man with the Word which he uttered.

The focus of this current study is the Initiatic impact of Thelema which is uniquely set apart from the Law. The Law and its interpretation are matters for each individual to determine privately. The formulae of Initiation, insofar as they may be openly revealed, have always been and still remain generally homomorphic and therefore have a catholic connotation. The formulae presented in this discussion are the Initiatic system and formulae of the A.A. in particular, although many aspects of what will be discussed herein impact any system directly involved with the Spiritual evolution of mankind.

Certain specific formulae and rituals of the Aeon of Osiris were declared abrogate by Aleister Crowley in his office as prophet, following the admonition given to him by Aiwass in Liber CCXX, II:5:

Behold! the rituals of the old time are black. Let the evil ones be cast away; let the good ones be purged by the prophet! Then shall this Knowledge go aright.

Aspirants to Thelema should pay particular attention to the distinction between abrogation and supersession. Many of the doctrines of the former Aeon are clearly abrogate; others, though still valid, have been superseded. A clear understanding of this distinction is necessary for comprehending the System of Initiation in the Aeon of the Child. Toward this end, it is necessary to examine the formulae that governed the past Aeon, and specifically the thematic pattern of the Dying God.

The Dying God

The formula of the Dying God may be found in the mythology of many cultures. The legends of Odin, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, Osiris and Jesus, to name a few, contain elements of this central theme. The motif of the slain and resurrected god remains one of the most powerful archetypes ever to emerge from the unconscious. The appearance of this archetype occurred with the birth of the patriarchal Aeon and resulted in the upheaval of the entire world structure dominated by the imago of the Great Mother.

The Mother personified nature with its ceaseless cycles of Birth, Life and Death. The Mother goddess was the unquestionable keeper of these mysteries for all things came from her womb, were nurtured throughout life, and upon death, were swallowed up in the great void over which she likewise reigned supreme. The oldest Egyptian myths, extant only in fragments that echo more ancient sources, bear evidence of this theme. The symbol of the great cow that bore the sun and carried it throughout its celestial journey is a mythology lost in a time when the great Mother was All. The usurper of her dominion was to come in the form of a man, or man-god, who conquered her most-feared aspect: death. He suffered the loss of life as all mortal men, but rose from the dead. Secondly, he brought with his epoch knowledge of another mystery that unseated the supremacy of the mother: the action of male seed is necessary for the creation of life.

The connection found between the resurrected man-god and the rebirth of vegetation is likewise an archetypal link. When early man enjoyed the bounty of the earth he was at its mercy; food was taken wherever it was found to grow wild. The ability to cultivate crops was unknown; food from the earth was simply a gift from the Earth Mother. The myth of Osiris tells us that he was the father of agriculture. The plowing of the earth and planting of the seed were naturally associated with the Father. Yet, like the unpredictability of nature herself to threaten or destroy the harvest, the suffering endured by the Father-Hero is difficult to separate from his conquest of death. Both were viewed, quite unconsciously, as agents of the Mother herself. The Hero was himself the grain of wheat which fell into the Earth Mother and sprouted new life. The scythe which cut the ripened grain was the shape of the crescent moon.

As our knowledge of science increases, so do the boundaries of our myths. One might even suspect that the latter precedes the former. It is probably for this reason that fundamental Christianity harbors a hatred for true science. The science of the ancient world during the time of Osiris was rudimentary at best and the emergence of the new harvest was still considered a miracle. These early people did not know that the seed did not perish in the earth, but only lay dormant. Thus Jesus was to say,

The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

The theological doctrines of Jesus, the last man-god in the Osirian world-view, would bind the requirement of suffering to the realization of godhead. It should be stated clearly that the concept of self-sacrifice is not in all cases a false idea. In essence, there is no fault with the theory that the individual may choose to sacrifice for the greater good of which he or she is a willing component. In our societies it is often a necessity to guarantee survival. The strength of families and entire nations is built upon self-sacrifice. It is the additional element of proclaiming glory in suffering that vilifies it.

Purification through Suffering

Characteristic of the Aeon of the Dying God and central to all expressions of its theology, regardless of cultural origins, is the doctrine of Purification through Suffering. It was to become its central Initiatic Ordeal and symbolize the supreme attainment, union with the divine.

This doctrine was neatly summarized in the word IAO which is interpreted to mean Isis-Apophis-Osiris, or Life-Death-Resurrection. In this formula, life or nature is destroyed by catastrophe and restored by the resurrected god, or redeemer.

The treachery of Set and the subsequent murder and dismemberment of Osiris were the indispensable elements of the Egyptian passion play that culminated in the celebration of the resurrected god. It is uncertain to what extent the priesthood of Egypt regarded the suffering of Osiris as essential to his divinity. The ancient texts remain silent on this point. However, the myth of Osiris appears to be that of a man who was triumphant in spite of his suffering, rather than one who became a god through his suffering. The myth of Jesus on the other hand is absolutely clear; it binds the requirement of suffering to the realization of godhead. In the New Testament account, when Jesus revealed his plans to his disciples, he said, "the Son of Man must suffer many things ... and be killed, and after three days rise again." When Peter objected to his Master's acceptance of this fate, Jesus responded, "Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men."

The placard placed over Jesus' head on the Cross is said to have read, "Jesus Of Nazareth, The King of the Jews." The initials of this phrase in Latin, I.N.R.I., combined with the Gnostic form of the name of Jehovah, IAO, yielded the keyword to the central mystery of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. It was used to open the Vault of the Mystic Mountain of Abiegnus. The formula is given in the Adeptus Minor Ritual of that Order:

Let us analyze the Key Word.

I. N. R. I.


Virgo, Isis, Mighty Mother.

Scorpio, Apophis, Destroyer.

Sol, Osiris, Slain and Risen.

Isis, Apophis, Osiris—I. A. O.

The Cross of Suffering

+—The Sign of Osiris Slain.

L—The Sign of the Mourning of Isis.

V—The Sign of Typhon and Apophis.

X—The Sign of Osiris Risen.

L V X, Lux, The Light of the Cross.

Candidates for this Grade, prior to swearing the oath, were clothed in a "Robe of mourning" and wrapped in a "chain of humility." They were then bound to the "Cross of Suffering" whereupon they were told, "The Symbol of Suffering is the Symbol of Strength ... If ye be crucified with Christ, ye shall also reign with Him." A diagram of the Cross of Suffering adorned the foot of what purported to be the Pastos of Our Father and Brother C.R.C.

Those who aspire to become Thelemites must completely reject the dogma that presents self-sacrifice as an attribute of righteousness. The symbol and function of the Cross of Suffering is abrogate. It has no place in the symbolism of Thelema. The formula of the Dying God, divorced from the glorification of suffering, is not abrogate. It has been assimilated into a broader comprehension of nature and, subsequently, the psychosoma of mankind.

The Abomination of Desolation

The appearance of the New Aeon was foretold by the seers and prophets of the patriarchal Aeon. Their written accounts, although corrupt and untrustworthy for any historical analysis, still give evidence of the terror with which they viewed the event.

The prophecies of Daniel speak of a day when one would come who would "cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease," and set up "the abomination that maketh desolate." Jesus made reference to this prophecy in the Olivet Discourse as a confirming sign of the "beginning of sorrows" and the "end of the world."

From the Jewish perspective, the Abomination of Desolation referred to a prophecy of the desecration of the Temple in Jerusalem. Some have taken this to refer to Antiochus Epiphanes who desecrated the Temple by sacrificing unclean animals upon the Altar of Burnt Offerings and daring to enter the most sacrosanct area of the Temple, the Holy of Holies. Fundamental Christian theologians consider the actions of Antiochus Ephiphanes as merely a foreshadowing of the "Antichrist" whose appearance they believe is prophesied in the Book of Revelation, along with the "second coming of Christ" and the "time of tribulation" that marks the end of the world.

The biblical prophets of the "old time" proclaimed that they beheld the "end of days," and in this they were partially correct. They had the vision of the end of their own time—when the sacrifice would indeed be removed from the Temple, when sacrifice would be declared abrogate and the oblation cease.

Jehovah's demand for bloody sacrifices, whether real or imaginary, are abhorrent to any rational mind. Children in Sunday school are left to wonder whether Isaac's father would have slit his throat for the sake of Jehovah had an unfortunate ram not snagged its horns in a nearby thicket. It is a weak argument that Abraham's son was a "type" of Christ in a long procession of symbolic lambs that presage the slaughter at Golgotha. It is better to remember that this is the same God that waited at the inn for Moses so that he might kill him; a God that so delighted in spilling the blood of the first-born that he murdered his own.

The sacrificial lamb slain for Jehovah in the Temple of Jerusalem, the lamb's blood of the first Passover, the crucifixion of Jesus, the "lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world," are all extensions of the same idea and rooted in the doctrine of Vicarious Atonement.

Rejection of "original sin" as a first cause eliminates the raison d'être for atonement and grace. No more deplorable dogmas have ever been perpetuated than these, for their metastasis has corrupted the soul of the world with a rotten cancer.

At last, the Temple of Man has been cleansed of the Bloody Sacrifice. The Temple of the slave gods is desolate, for their God has been dethroned.

There is a far deeper meaning of the Abomination of Desolation that is understood by Initiates. Aspirants should carefully study Liber VII and Liber CDXVIII.

Emblems of Death

The emblems of death have always figured prominently in the mythos of all religions and spiritual orders. Unless man eventually achieves immortality in the flesh, it is doubtful that this motif will ever disappear totally. Certainly death is the great equalizer of men. It is specifically concerning the mystery of the emblems of death that the doctrine of the New Aeon differs drastically from the Old. The symbols of death are still visible throughout the Initiatic system of the New Aeon and still serve as powerful vehicles for the mysteries of change and transformation. The vital difference for those who accept Thelema lies in two distinct points:

(1) The mystical death no longer signifies the Supreme Attainment.

(2) The superstitious and vile doctrine of The Second Death is repudiated.

Christianity is ultimately built upon an archetypal fear of the dark. In primitive man, the boundary between the unconscious and consciousness was very tenuous. As consciousness began to constellate, the breach between the unconscious and self-conscious state slowly widened. The struggle to become sentient became a battle between darkness and light, between awareness and the oblivion of animal nature. Early man vacillated between two worlds; the infantile cognitive faculties were overpowered by the constant pull of the void, and repeatedly swamped by the resurging archetypal flood without warning. On the other hand, each successive return to the waking state reinforced the will to be aware. The evolving reasoning faculty identified itself with the world of light and consciousness; unconsciousness was associated with darkness, sleep and death. The realm of sleep and dreams was an archetypal world inhabited by transpersonal beings, gods and demons. In the real world of early man, night was the greatest time of danger from predators. Like the lapses into unconsciousness, darkness returned and swallowed the light. Night was the enemy of light, vision, warmth, safety and security.


Excerpted from INITIATION In the Aeon of The Child by J. Daniel Gunther. Copyright © 2009 J. Daniel Gunther. Excerpted by permission of NICOLAS-HAYS, INC..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

J. Daniel Guntheris a life-long student of esotericism, mythology, and religion. He has been a member of A...A...for over thirty years and is considered one of the foremost authorities on the doctrines of Thelema, the spiritual teachings transmitted through Aleister Crowley. He is on the editorial board of The Equinox, published by Weiser, and has served as consultant and advisor for numerous other publications in the field of occultism.

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