CCXX wrote:(v. 148) 3. Now let it be first understood that I am a god of War and of Vengeance. I shall deal hardly with them.
Verses like this, especially taken individually and out of context, are practically "blank checks" - I don't care whether they come from The Bible, The Book of the Law,
personal meditation, or a shortage of antipsychotics in the diet. It can be so
easy to take them the wrong way - unless one sees them in the context of the entire Book, and especially of its root principles:
That every man and every woman is a star.
The doctrine of True Will - each being charged to fulfill their own and to stand passionately for each other person's fulfillment of their own as well.
That we are all one and, ultimately, there is no separation between us.
This is an extraordinary verse for me to keep before me, as a mantra to the Truth of my Angel. To understand how I see it, here is a slightly edited excerpt from my diary from a decade and a half ago:
This is a very difficult verse. It requires that I address some of the recurrent themes of this chapter, especially that of war. My views on this are complex, because they change with the level of which we are speaking.
First, there is no mistaking the fact that, since 1904, this planet has been bathed in blood as it has not been since fully barbaric days - perhaps not even then, considering the vast population differences. Furthermore, these wars have had a powerful effect on the social, political, and ideological evolution of all cultures. Furthermore, this bloodshed has been triggered, with an amazing reliability, concurrent with the strongest steps of establishing the Law of Thelema in the world.
However, I think it a serious blunder to presume war as a necessary
consequence of the energies of Horus. These wars are a result of the failure and weakness
of humanity in the birthing of this new Aeon. Perhaps "labor pains" were inevitable, and the tantrums of an unruly child to be expected. Yet infants are usually only unruly in this way if given painful provocation.
The social and spiritual impetus which is Horus demands real change and real transformation. It is a certainty of the human constitution that if powerful inner
forces are ignored or denied, these forces will exteriorize; and, not being consciously nurtured and directed, they will exteriorize in an immature and generally destructive fashion. It is only the ignorance of humanity, its failure to recognize these inner needs and forces, its stubborn and inertial resistance to real change, which has necessitated the pattern we have witnessed thus far...
This, by the way, is what must be true about all the so-called "prophecies" in this Book. Crowley was very excited about such things. To him, they were confirmations of the miracle of the transmission - as if the transmission itself were not miracle enough! However, I must regard them rather as "leaks." The primary
level of interpreting these verses must be in consciousness. Given the archetypal trueness, the same symbols will tend to "distill" into manifestation - that is, to exteriorize - to the extent that they are unfulfilled interiorly. The successful test of this premise is that, if it is true, there will be a tendency
to have only negative or (consciously) undesirable prophecies exteriorize; and, in fact, it is primarily in the references to war, sacrifice, and sorrow, the tragedy of the Scarlet Woman, etc., that such outer
manifestations of these "prophecies" appeared and were cited by AC. No one is bubbling over about the "good" prophecies being fulfilled. What of the "rich man from the west"? On the outer, everyone is still waiting for the golden shower!The true warrior spirit blended with a redemptive or healing god must require that the battlefield is within ourselves, and that there is no opponent save ourselves.
In the present verse, it is the inner battle with self that must be our war. Also, in Hebrew characters, "war" is VAR = 207. That is, it is an anagram of AVR, "Light." Horus is a God of Light,
and it is as such that He is to inspire and mobilize us.
"Vengeance" is generally understood to be "the act or motive of punishing another in payment for a wrong or injury he has committed; retribution." But it also means "with great violence or fury; excessively," as in, "He acted with a vengeance." Its root is the Latin vindicare,
a most interesting word; for, though it comes into English as "vindicate," its full meaning is, "to lay a legal claim to; to protect, defend; to appropriate; to demand; to avenge, punish."* * * * * * * * * * *
I have taken the intervening time since yesterday to examine further my resistance to the most literal interpretation of Ra-Hoor-Khuit as "a god of War and of Vengeance." It appears the psychological necessity arises from the fact that (a)
I feel inwardly deeply connected to the Horus archetype, and yet (b)
I could never really accept my God being one of violence and cruelty which are ideas I fully relate to the usual
meanings of "War and Vengeance." That is one reason I became disillusioned with the Old Testament Jehovah, but could totally accept Krishna’s views on war which, for Arjuna, were perfectly Thelemic.
But I am not sure any usual meaning of "War and Vengeance" is put before us here. Why, for example, are they capitalized? (We are told twice in this Book that the "style of the letters" is important.) These cannot reasonably be the relatively petty human passions that humanity is all too eager to project onto its deities.
So, first: By mythic archetype, I recognize that Horus, son of Osiris, was the avenger of his father's murder.
It is completely clear that the highly energized and martial character of this God (whom I have previously equated with the kundalini and the primal power of the Sun) is to act "excessively" (i.e.,
"exceedingly") and "with great fury." There are no restrained half-measures typical of Him.Also it is abundantly clear to me that the primary war we have each to wage is within our respective lives, our characters, our personae.
That is the actual nature of the Great Work.
Nor shall I ever
forget my tour of South-Central Los Angeles - the La Brea and Rodeo area in particular - the morning after the L.A. riots began after the first Rodney King verdict. With doors locked and radio off, I opened myself psychically to feel and enter into the collective reality of the rioting masses as I drove quietly and slowly through the riotous streets of scavengers. There, as the smoke rose (often black and always thick) from the burning buildings, it began to take shape in answer to my inner, stunned "Why?" The smoke rose and congealed massively above one building, into the gray-black form of a huge hawk, and its voice thundered through my being: "The God of Justice is a God of War; and for so great an injustice there must be an equally severe equilibration." (Or words to that effect; see my diary of the time.)
And therein lies the key. Fear, severity, and brutality are the basest manifestations of Geburah. Its general nature is strength, and its highest manifestation is DYN, din,
Justice. For so great an injustice there was demanded an equally great retribution - literally, "paying back" - and especially a compensating equilibration, and equalization of the distributed forces.
This is not the god of some petty human need for revenge, but the great God of Justice. "War and Vengeance," closely examined, mean Light and Justice, Tiphereth and Geburah - Ra and Hoor.
After the foregoing it seems anticlimactic to attack the concluding sentence of this verse, "I shall deal hardly with them;" but it must be done.
This is an unusual use of "hardly," though it is employed correctly in an adverbial form.
The common meaning of "scarcely, barely" hardly
It may also mean "in a hard way," i.e.,
A somewhat antiquated variant usage - which mostly survives as the contemporary word "hardily" - gives the meaning "strenuously." The Middle English root hardli
meant "boldly," i.e.,
in a hardy fashion. This is the class of meanings that applies here.
What is the antecedent of "them"? I fear we have sloppily, unthinkingly ignored the grammatical integrity to easily accept the word as depicting the Great Vague Them - as in "us vs. them" - perhaps regarding it broadly as the nonspecific and generic enemies of Thelema or some sort of thing. Such ass-blind bigotry is, however, unworthy of a God - nor is it even good grammar!
Since the antecedent is not likely to be "War and Vengeance," it likely reflects back to verse 2: the division, the ignorance, the "defunct spellings," and all that is out of whack. These "wrongs," i.e.,
"sins" (in the way this Book defines that word), will be dealt with in a strenuous and hardy fashion by the God of Light and of Justice.