From: Paul Hume 
Newsgroups: alt.pagan,alt.satanism,alt.religion.scientology
Subject: Re: Crowley Cross?
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 1997 12:05:58 -0500

Perry -
This thread has wandered over so many lists (news and mail) and I've seen the bits in such disconnected form, I am not sure if this already got answered for you, but...

> OK.  Let me see if I have this straight.
> Crowley (OTO) performs magick with "his" Thoth deck, which contains a
> 12-pointed cross by Frieda Harris.  The symbol is later embellished by
> Golden Dawn and (possibly) used as a template by Hubbard for the
> Scientology cross.
> Do I have the historical timeline correct?  Is it OTO, Crowley, Thoth,
> Golden Dawn?

Nope...Golden Dawn (est. 1887 or so, when Crowley was 12) comes first. The GD devised the Rose Cross as a paticular symbol of their Second, or Inner, Order, the degrees of adeptship. That's the symbol Harris and Crowley (or possibly just the publisher?) chose for the reverse of the Thoth cards.

The Rose Cross being:
- the cross bottony (ie. calvary cross with triple lobes at the ends of the arms). Each arm painted in different colors, representing the four Aristotelian elements, and the lower arm, being the longer one on a calvary cross, also having a section painted to represent the planetary influences.

-charged with a multicolored rose (22 petals, each bearing a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, each petal painted in the color attributed to that letter as a Path on the Tree of Life, with the letter painted in the complementary color)

- radiating from the rose are the 12 rays or "glories," bearing a graphical representation of the "keyword" of the Adeptus Minor grade: INRI, as it is related to the word LVX ("light" in Latin) and the Name IAO. This relationship is from a crucial part of the initiation ritual of the Adeptus Minor grade, and encapsulates some crucial formulae of the GD in general: sort of an "e=mc**2" core formula for their magical system. GD develops the Rose Cross symbol. Crowley is initiated into GD in his early 20's, falls out with the London membership but retains the favor of the head of the Order, MacGregor Mathers, at least for a time. The GD schisms, Crowley goes off to Egypt on an extended honeymoon and he and his wife, Rose, write or (as we'd say today) channel The Book of the Law (this in 1904). Splits with Mathers shortly after this.

OTO (meanwhile) is founded 1900 or so by Karl Kellner, and doesn't involve Crowley until the 1910's. In the 1920's, AC succeeds Theodor Reuss as head of the Order (which promptly schisms, since some lodges did not accept Aleister's decision to "retool" the OTO as a vehicle for the Law of Thelema, the philosophy he derived from the Book of the Law). Rose Cross is not part of OTO symbology (at least not so far, says the IVth degree member of OTO). Crowley used a form of the Jerusalem Cross, with 10 crosslets (for a total of 11 crosses) rather than 12 (for a total of 13) as part of his signature as head of the Order. Since I've also seen this used by elder brothers and sisters of mine in the Order as constituted today, and not just our present head, I suspect, given the context, that it actually denotes a IXth degree initiate. This is the symbol denounced as the "Crowley Cross" by R.S. Clymer in his anti-AMORC broadside, where he makes play on a putative link between AMORC and OTO.

The Thoth deck was designed in the last years of Crowley's life, so the timeline actually runs...

Golden Dawn - Crowley - Thoth deck (OTO out of picture except as sponsors of Weiser publishing first commercial run of deck in 1970's).

Hmmm...I hope I didn't just give you a lecture on how to build a watch when all you asked for was the time (g).


Back to the Main Page