Powers of the Sphinx


Illuminated Glass and Mixed Media on Board, 2010

“In philosophy, the hypercube or tesseract represents the inherent complexity of a two-dimensional surface, and the dynamic, structuralized potential of the fourth dimension; According to one theory, time is interpretable as the nth dimension in an nth-dimensional context; acquiring additional dimensions merely requires more complex exceptions, and a more complex set of working instructions.”

“To Know, To Will, To Dare, and To Keep Si-lent: these are the four traditional maxims of the aspiring magician, the Four Powers of the Sphinx.

These Four Powers are attributed to the four elements. They frequently are symbolized by the four Kerubic (or “Fixed”) signs of the Zodiac, the images of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius.

The mysterious symbolism of the Sphinx itself also is attributed to the sephirah Malkuth, especially in the sense that it is a visual and symbolic synthesis of the four elements through these governing Kerubic forms.

Different writers have allocated these Four Powers to the four elements in different ways. Nor did Crowley limit himself to one way of listing their correspondences. The exact attributions do not matter for our present purposes. They can be evaluated by each Neophyte individually, in the process of building her own understanding of the Four Powers of the Sphinx, and in the process of evolving her own inner symbol system and magical methodology. Among Crowley’s writings, the primary references for these different views can be found in De Lege Libellum, and in Liber Aleph, The Book of Wisdom & Folly, both of which were a part of the Probationer Syllabus. There is additional teaching in a document given to the Probationer on the occasion of her initiation. A still different formulation is given in Liber 777, Col. L. Another helpful reference is Magick in Theory & Practice, Cap. XXI, Sec. V.

It is important to understand that these “powers” develop in ascending layers. One never “masters” them in the sense of having fully acquired them. They continue to reappear on ever-higher levels, appearing in progressively more subtle aspects. For this reason they are represented as the four sides of a solid, balanced foundation – the first row of brick and mortar, so to speak – of the Pyramid of Initiation which the magician is building toward the stars. Without such a solid and balanced foundation, the structure eventually will topple and fall. The higher goes the building (the closer to its apex one reaches), the more likely the fall. This is as true psychologically and spiritually as it is in architecture. For this reason, the A.’.A.’. encourages – in fact, requires – a gradual, progressive, balanced advance in the Great Work, resting upon a solid, sure foundation.”

-Chapter 3 of The Mystical & Magical System of the A.’.A.’., James A. Eschelman

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