1. I am the Heart; and the Snake is entwined
Chapter IChapter I Commentary︎︎︎
About the invisible core of the mind.
Rise, O my snake! It is now is the hour
Of the hooded and holy ineffable flower.
Rise, O my snake, into brilliance of bloom
On the corpse of Osiris afloat in the tomb!
O heart of my mother, my sister, mine own,
Thou art given to Nile, to the terror Typhon!
Ah me! but the glory of ravening storm
Enswathes thee and wraps thee in frenzy of form.
Be still, O my soul! that the spell may dissolve
As the wands are upraised, and the æons revolve.
Behold! in my beauty how joyous Thou art,
O Snake that caresses the crown of mine heart!
Behold! we are one, and the tempest of years
Goes down to the dusk, and the Beetle appears.
O Beetle! the drone of Thy dolorous note
Be ever the trance of this tremulous throat!
I await the awaking! The summons on high
From the Lord Adonai, from the Lord Adonai!1
2. Adonai spake unto V.V.V.V.V., saying: There must ever be division in the word.
3. For the colours are many, but the light is one.
4. Therefore thou writest that which is of mother of emerald, and of lapis-lazuli, and of turquoise, and of alexandrite.
5. Another writeth the words of topaz, and of deep amethyst, and of gray sapphire, and of deep sapphire with a tinge as of blood.
6. Therefore do ye fret yourselves because of this.
7. Be not contented with the image.
8. I who am the Image of an Image say this.
9. Debate not of the image, saying Beyond! Beyond!
One mounteth unto the Crown by the moon and by the Sun, and by the arrow, and by the Foundation, and by the dark home of the stars from the black earth.
10. Not otherwise may ye reach unto the Smooth Point.
11. Nor is it fitting for the cobbler to prate of the Royal matter. O cobbler! mend me this shoe, that I may walk. O king! if I be thy son, let us speak of the Embassy to the King thy Brother.2
12. Then was there silence. Speech had done with us awhile.
There is a light so strenuous that it is not perceived as light.
13. Wolf’s bane is not so sharp as steel; yet it pierceth the body more subtly.
14. Even as evil kisses corrupt the blood, so do my words devour the spirit of man.
15. I breathe, and there is infinite dis-ease in the spirit.
16. As an acid eats into steel, as a cancer that utterly corrupts the body; so am I unto the spirit of man.
17. I shall not rest until I have dissolved it all.
18. So also the light that is absorbed. One absorbs little, and is called white and glistening; one absorbs all and is called black.
19. Therefore, O my darling, art thou black.
20. O my beautiful, I have likened thee to a jet Nubian slave, a boy of melancholy eyes.
21. O the filthy one! the dog! they cry against thee.
Because thou art my beloved.
22. Happy are they that praise thee; for they see thee with Mine eyes.
23. Not aloud shall they praise thee; but in the night watch one shall steal close, and grip thee with the secret grip; another shall privily cast a crown of violets over thee; a third shall greatly dare, and press mad lips to thine.
24. Yea! the night shall cover all, the night shall cover all.
25. Thou wast long seeking Me; thou didst run forward so fast that I was unable to come up with thee.
O thou darling fool! what bitterness thou didst crown thy days withal.
26. Now I am with thee; I will never leave thy being.
27. For I am the soft sinuous one entwined about thee, heart of gold!
28. My head is jewelled with twelve stars; My body is white as milk of the stars; it is bright with the blue of the abyss of stars invisible.
29. I have found that which could not be found; I have found a vessel of quicksilver.29
30. Thou shalt instruct thy servant in his ways, thou shalt speak often with him.
31. (The scribe looketh upwards and crieth) Amen! Thou hast spoken it, Lord God!
32. Further Adonai spake unto V.V.V.V.V. and said:
33. Let us take our delight in the multitude of men!
Let us shape unto ourselves a boat of mother-of-pearl from them, that we may ride upon the river of Amrit!
34. Thou seest yon petal of amaranth, blown by the wind from the low sweet brows of Hathor?
35. (The Magister saw it and rejoiced in the beauty of it.) Listen!
36. (From a certain world came an infinite wail.)
That falling petal seemed to the little ones a wave to engulph their continent.
37. So they will reproach thy servant, saying: Who hath set thee to save us?
38. He will be sore distressed.
39. All they understand not that thou and I are fashioning a boat of mother-of-pearl. We will sail down the river of Amrit even to the yew-groves of Yama, where we may rejoice exceedingly.
40. The joy of men shall be our silver gleam, their woe our blue gleam— all in the mother-of-pearl.
41. (The scribe was wroth thereat. He spake:
O Adonai and my master, I have borne the inkhorn and the pen without pay, in order that I might search this river of Amrit, and sail thereon as one of ye. This I demand for my fee, that I partake of the echo of your kisses.)
42. (And immediately it was granted unto him.)
43. (Nay; but not therewith was he content. By an infinite abasement unto shame did he strive. Then a voice:)
44. Thou strivest ever; even in thy yielding thou strivest to yield— and lo! thou yieldest not.
45. Go thou unto the outermost places and subdue all things.
46. Subdue thy fear and thy disgust. Then— yield!
47. There was a maiden that strayed among the corn, and sighed; then grew a new birth, a narcissus, and therein she forgot her sighing and her loneliness.
48. Even instantly rode Hades heavily upon her, and ravished her away.
49. (Then the scribe knew the narcissus in his heart; but because it came not to his lips, therefore was he shamed and spake no more.)
50. Adonai spake yet again with V.V.V.V.V. and said:
The earth is ripe for vintage; let us eat of her grapes, and be drunken thereon.
51. And V.V.V.V.V. answered and said: O my lord, my dove, my excellent one, how shall this word seem unto the children of men?
52. And He answered him: Not as thou canst see.
It is certain that every letter of this cipher hath some value; but who shall determine the value? For it varieth ever, according to the subtlety of Him that made it.
53. And He answered Him: Have I not the key thereof?
I am clothed with the body of flesh; I am one with the Eternal and Omnipotent God.
54. Then said Adonai: Thou hast the Head of the Hawk, and thy Phallus is the Phallus of Asar. Thou knowest the white, and thou knowest the black, and thou knowest that these are one. But why seekest thou the knowledge of their equivalence?
55. And he said: That my Work may be right.
56. And Adonai said: The strong brown reaper swept his swathe and rejoiced. The wise man counted his muscles, and pondered, and understood not, and was sad.
Reap thou, and rejoice!
57. Then was the Adept glad, and lifted his arm.
Lo! an earthquake, and plague, and terror on the earth!
A casting down of them that sate in high places; a famine upon the multitude!
58. And the grape fell ripe and rich into his mouth.
59. Stained is the purple of thy mouth, O brilliant one, with the white glory of the lips of Adonai.
60. The foam of the grape is like the storm upon the sea; the ships tremble and shudder; the shipmaster is afraid.
61. That is thy drunkenness, O holy one, and the winds whirl away the soul of the scribe into the happy haven.
62. O Lord God! let the haven be cast down by the fury of the storm! Let the foam of the grape tincture my soul with Thy light!
63. Bacchus grew old, and was Silenus; Pan was ever Pan for ever and ever more throughout the æons.
64. Intoxicate the inmost, O my lover, not the outermost!
65. So was it— ever the same! I have aimed at the peeled wand of my God, and I have hit; yea, I have hit.