An Omen for Armageddon, Part 5: Young, English and Rich: Cairo, 1904

By Vincent Bridges (02/20/03)

We face in the near future not the end of the world, although it could be that as well, but the death of History, the bragging chatter of alpha-male apes huddled around their primary techno-achievement, fire, and the birth of Myth, which is the collective dream of a new kind of “humanity.” Many ancient cultures from around the planet, including some of the most sophisticated, have assigned to this time period the label, “THE END.” The temporal calculations from the Great Pyramid end in 2001, and the Mayan calendar hits reset in 2012, a year that also adds to five, with the helical alignment of the winter solstice sun and the center of the galaxy.

The year 1987, the year of the faux Mayan Harmonic Convergence, was also the last year of the traditional Kalachakra calendar of ancient Tibet, the end of 16 cycles of 60 years since the Kalachakra teachings were released from the mythical kingdom of Shambala in 1027. The Black Hat sect of the Nyngma-pa, or Ancient Ones, teach that the 17th cycle, which began in 1987, will be the last. This cycle will be brief, ending in the emergence of Shambala after a period in which each element will be exalted in every other element. This comes to 25 years, 5 years for each of the five elements, and brings us to 2012.

Curiously, the legend of Shambala gives some meaning to the seemingly nonsensical astrological information in the song, Age of Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In from the hippie musical Hair. The Vishu Purana, one of the oldest of the Hindu classics, mentions Kalki, the Hindu Messiah, an avatar of Vishu who will be the last King of Shambala. Kalki is very similar to Kulkan, the Mayan White Messiah, and he is shown leading a great army of enlightened beings against the barbarians. “He will then re-establish righteousness upon the earth; and the minds of those who live at the end of the age of strife shall be awakened, and shall be as pellucid as crystal… As it is said ‘When the sun and the moon, and …Tisha, and the planet Jupiter are in one mansion, the golden age shall return.’”

We are living at the end of a great cycle of strife. In 1999 The Great War, the War to End all Wars we thought, finally wound down in the Serbo-Croatian hills where it began 85 years before. The rumble of mortar fire in the streets of Sarajevo and Kosovo were the dying echoes of the thunder from the Western Front of the Great War. The barbarian Communist Chinese vandalize and commit genocide at will in Tibet, the land of the Dharma, as the Precious Guru Padmasambhava foresaw. And that last bastion of freedom and democracy, America, is rapidly slipping into rogue nation status as it pushes its oil dollar hegemony into military action. To awaken, to receive that clarity “pellucid as crystal,” it is clear that we must resolve the problem of power.

Nostradamus said that after a cycle of great disaster, at the moment when the motor of the centuries engages for the next round, a new and even greater cycle of disaster looms ahead. The comet is the sign of the coming moment of truth, our last chance to stop the impending cataclysm of all out war along religious lines. To do that we must understand the message behind the omen in the sky; we must traverse that last arc of the spiral, that last corner in the labyrinth and come face to face with what awaits us at the center.

In 1904, the first “five” year in the 20th century, Edward Alexander “Aleister” Crowley and his new bride, the former Miss Rose Edith Kelley arrived in Cairo on an extended honeymoon. The young Crowley, still shy of 30 and in the midst of a Saturn return, was already an accomplished Alpinist, a celebrated, in some circles at least, minor poet and a veteran of several occult societies. Little did he and Rose suspect, as they checked into the second floor corner room at Shepherd’s Hotel in the heart of downtown Cairo that they were about to make magickal history and inaugurate a 93-year period that would serve as the prologue to the Apocalypse.
To give the reader an idea of how fast the change occurred, in just over a decade, the world would be at war and Shepherd’s would become British Imperial headquarters, a vital link in the chain of command between London and Delhi. The suite of rooms occupied by the Crowleys became part of the offices of the Arab Bureau, a semi-secret group of spies and plotters that included T. E. Lawrence. Out of the Arab Bureau’s manipulation would come in time all the complications found today in the Middle East, including the nation of Israel and the royal families of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the deposed royal family of Iraq. But of course, that’s just another coincidence.

For the first month or so, it was great fun. “Eddie,” as Rose insisted on calling Crowley, posed as a Persian nobleman and went in search of Arabic instruction from the masters at Al Ahazr mosque. Rose wandered the markets in Khan il Khalili and visited the chic set who lived on houseboats and in new French-looking mansions over in Giza. They played golf at Helwan, and decorated their new flat in the fashionable European section of Cairo, a few blocks north and east of the Boulak Museum and a short walk from the terrace restaurant at Shepherd’s where Cairo society met for lunch.

Rose and “Eddie” were young Edwardians loose in Cairo for the season after a lengthy honeymoon that had already included a stay in Egypt the previous fall, as well as Paris, Naples, and Ceylon. They were young, English and rich, the world was their playground, and, as Crowley commented, their “marriage was an uninterrupted sexual debauch” until the strange events began in Cairo. But by early March, Rose was three months pregnant and things had changed.
The previous November’s whirlwind tour of Egypt had been wonderful, full of excitement and flash. The best hotels and romantic excursions such as riding the Pullman to Aswan and on by camel to Abu Simbel, where, at the end of the known world, the great Pharaoh still looks down on the barbarians in awe inspiring solemnity. And then, as a special treat, “Eddie” arranged for them to spend the night of November 22nd/23rd in the Great Pyramid. It was terribly romantic, even if a little silly when “Eddie” began to chant and read poems, and Rose was sure to her dying day that this was the moment when she conceived. Two days later, they were on the train to Port Said, bound for India and on to China.

In Bombay, Rose broke it to “Eddie” that she was pregnant. He replied, right-o then, let’s go kill something for a month or two and then if you’re right, it’ll be back to doctors and nurses. And off they went to Ceylon. By mid January, it was obvious she was right, and so they headed back to Cairo. They rented the new flat, and moved out of Shepherd’s, on March 14th and Rose settled in to nest.
But “Eddie,” who had continued his playboy lifestyle, off studying Arabic and playing golf while Rose nested, suddenly decided it was time for a little magickal sex play, ala last November’s memorable evening in the pyramid. On the evening of March 16th, he tried the same invocation and found that Rose was suddenly very upset by the whole thing. She fell into a trance and kept repeating: “They are waiting for you.”

This was not the result Crowley was looking for; he wanted her to see the sylphs and was annoyed when she didn’t. The next day, he tried again with similar results. Crowley said later that his intent was to entertain her, showing her the sylphs was like going to the cinema or the music hall. It didn’t work, and on the 17th Rose was even more distressed, insisting that They were waiting, and adding that it was all about the Child, all about Osiris.

So just what was it Crowley was invoking that produced this reaction? He calls them sylphs or the elementals of Air, which is technically correct, but they are really the “angelic” beings who inhabit the Air quadrants of the Enochian Tablets, which is actually something quite different. To evoke them, one must use various calls or keys in the Enochian language, received from “angelic” beings by Dr John Dee in the 16th century. These calls have profoundly apocalyptic language and context and their use in such a way, and at such a time and in such a place, is in fact a request to “higher intelligence” to supply information on that apocalypse. And this, seemingly, is just what the “angels” proceeded to do.
This is an important point to keep in mind, and it helps make sense of what happened later. On the night of November 22nd/23rd 1903, Crowley vibrated Enochian in the King’s Chamber, producing amazing results. The chamber was filled with an odd violet blue light that grew bright enough for Crowley to read the invocations without the aid of an electric torch. And Rose conceived a child, “It’s all about the Child‚” Rose responded to the invocations in March.

Perhaps it was for Rose, but Crowley wanted to know what was going on. He invoked Thoth, and received a more coherent response. Rose announced that it was Horus who was waiting, that Crowley had offended him and he should be invoked in a new way as the sun. While Crowley protested that he found this absurd, in truth Rose had struck a nerve. Crowley had offended Horus.
Not only had Crowley never invoked him, but also just four years before, Crowley had been involved in the messy break-up of one of Victorian England’s most influential occult societies, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Crowley had at first sided with S. L. “McGregor” Mathers in the dispute, but they soon had a falling out and were on the verge of all out psychic warfare by 1904. Mathers identified with Horus, the Horus the Elder of Upper Egypt, the war god who slew the serpent of chaos. To be in conflict with Mathers was indeed an offence to Horus.

But to Crowley the psychic and psychological ramifications went even deeper. Young Alex, as his family called him, had had a troubled relationship with his father and had never gotten over his father’s death just when he was just hitting adolescence and needed a father figure most. Mathers, in his own quirky way, had filled that missing father role for the young Crowley. Now, as happens to most fathers and sons, it was time for Crowley to rebel and find his own way. On the verge of becoming a father himself, and perhaps denying it subconsciously, this reference to the complex emotions around Horus was guaranteed to grab Crowley’s attention.

Crowley took Rose’s advice seriously and on March 20th attained spectacular results after a disappointing first try on the 19th. This ritual was outlined by Rose and filled in by Crowley following her suggestions. It was indeed a new way, as it was quite emotional in tone, much closer to the devotional style of bhakti yoga than the crisp and commanding postures of ceremonial magick. In it can be found in embryo most of the motifs and metaphors that would blossom forth in a few weeks as the Book of the Law.

Perhaps Rose, with her shrewd womanly intuition and keen emotional intelligence, simply devised a powerful and effective way to keep her dear “Eddie” at home and focused on her and at the same time exorcise some of his own internal fears and guilt about fatherhood. Or perhaps the invocations in the Great Pyramid had made contact with some sort of “higher intelligence” who did indeed have a message for anyone who would, or could, listen.

At any rate, the ritual brought amazing results. Here’s how Crowley summed it up in his small diary, The Book of Results: “20: Revealed that the Equinox of the Gods is come, Horus taking the throne of the east and all rituals, etc. being abrogated. 20: (contd.) Great Success in midnight invocation. I am to formulate a new link of an order with the Solar Force.” In another diary, he recorded: “Hoori (Horus) now Hpnt (Hierophant), ” another reference to the changing of the officers of the Golden Dawn on each equinox. Now, Horus is the Hierophant of the Age, not just the season.
Crowley wrote these notes in the early morning hours of the vernal equinox, March 21st, 1904. Clearly his reference to the Equinox of the Gods referred to both the events of that equinox, and the larger Great Year of precession. His successful invocation of Horus had inspired in him a new understanding of the coming precessional shift in the zodiacal age. Just as Pisces had been the age of Jesus/Osiris, the Dying God, the new age was to be one of the Crowned and Conquering Child, the New Horus.

One other curiosity must be noted. On the morning of March 17th, 1904, Cairo experienced a beautiful annular eclipse of the sun. As the sun rose that morning the eclipse was already in progress. Venus, the morning star in Aquarius, faded briefly and then reappeared as the eclipse strengthened. The effect was that of a beautiful ring of fire, bulging slightly toward the silvery glow of a morning star that refused to fade. This strange portent in the dawn sky was discussed in the local papers, including the Cairo edition of the London Times, on March 18th and 19th. Crowley could not have missed the news articles even if he had missed the event itself.

And so, by the 21st of March, Crowley was hooked. He had smacked the Tar Baby and was on his way to the briar patch. For the next 43 years, the rest of his life, Crowley lived in the shadow of what happened in those next few weeks. He followed the will-o-wisps whispers of the illuminati elves down a long twisted path toward a kind of reverse sainthood, in which his most perverse jokes would become religious movements and his most profound philosophical musing would become fuel for the rantings of disaffected and overindulgent punks the world over.

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