The Salient Points of the
The Great Work, for the Probationer, is, “to obtain a scientific knowledge of the nature and powers of my own being.”
“Probation” is defined as a trial period, during which one is tested. The word comes from the Latin probare, “to prove.” In Liber 185 the Probationer is advised to, “be mindful that the word Probationer is no idle term, but that the Brothers will in many a subtle way PROVE him, when he knoweth it not.”
“After three months the Student is examined... and if his knowledge... is found satisfactory, he may become a Probationer” (Book Four). The Probationer (0=0) is received by an initiate who is at least a Neophyte (1=10).
The aspirant to the A.'.A.'. shall hear the Lection (Liber LXI) and this note of his office; IF HE WILL, shall then procure the robe of a Probationer; shall choose with deep forethought and intense solemnity a motto... On reception, he shall receive the robe, sign the form provided and repeat the oath as appointed, and receive the First Volume of the Book. (Liber 185).
The “First Volume of the Book” contains Liber LXI (Liber Causae), and Liber LXV (Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente, “The Book of the Heart Girt with a Serpent”).
The Probationer robe is a white Tau robe (no hood), with gold braid along the bottom hem, the cuffs, and near the neckline. On the front is a scarlet pentagram. On the back is a hexagram, formed from a descending blue triangle interwoven with an ascending red triangle, and with a gold Tau in the center.
Probationer. — His principal business is to begin such practices as he may prefer, and to write a careful record of the same for one year. (One Star in Sight).
The essential purpose of the probationary grade is, thus, for the aspirant to explore a wide selection of instructional material and, primarily, to find his or her own methods and styles of working. Accordingly, any attempt to pre-specify the tasks assigned must be vague. The Probationer is given an extensive curriculum of study materials, consisting primarily of all A.'.A.'. publications in Class B. “He may select any practices that he prefers, but in any case must keep an exact record so that he may discover the relation of cause and effect in his working, and so that the A.'.A.'. may judge of his progress and direct his further studies.”
Liber LXV is Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente, “The Book of the Heart Girt with a Serpent.”
Probation lasts at least one year. After six months, select Probationers are admitted to a special ceremony, Ritual XXVIII, Liber Septem Regnum Sanctorum.
He shall hold himself chaste, and reverent toward his body, for that the ordeal of initiation is no light one. This is of peculiar importance in the last two months of his Probation. (Liber 185)
In Eight Lectures on Yoga, Aleister Crowley outlined how the beginning stages of A.'.A.'. work were designed:
The question for me is. . . to describe a method of procedure which will be sufficiently elastic to be useful to every human being. I have tried to do this by combining the two paths of Magick and Yoga. If we perform the preliminary practices, each according to his capacity, the result will surely be the acquisition of a certain technique. And this will become much easier as we advance, especially if we bear it well in mind not to attempt to discriminate between the two methods as if they were opposing schools, but to use the one to help out the other in an emergency....
You are expected to spend three months at least [the Student period] on the study of some of the classics on the subject. The chief object of this is not to instruct you, but to familiarize you with the ground work, and in particular to prevent you getting the idea that there is any right or wrong in matters of opinion. You pass an examination intended to make sure that your mind is well grounded in this matter, and you become a Probationer. Your reading will have given you some indication as to the sort of thing you are likely to be good at, and you select such practices as seem to you to promise well. You go ahead with these, and keep a careful record of what you do, and what results occur. After eleven months you submit your record to your superior; it is his duty to put you right where you have gone wrong, and particularly to encourage you where you think you have failed.
Basic instructions in “the two paths of Magick and Yoga” are, respectively, the Class B documents Liber O vel Manus et Sagittae and Liber E vel Exercitiorum. These practical instructions are the foundation of the A.'.A.'. system of Scientific Illuminism. G.'.H.'. Frater O.M. emphasized their importance plainly in an editorial in EQUINOX, No. VII:
I am authorised to say that no one will be admitted as a Neophyte unless his year’s work [as a Probationer] gives evidence of considerable attainment in the fundamental practices, Asana, Pranayama, assumption of God-forms, vibration of divine names, rituals of banishing and invoking, and the practices set out in sections 5 and 6 of Liber O. Although he is not examined in any of these, the elementary experience is necessary in order that he may intelligently assist those who will be under him.
The Probationer syllabus comprehends all Class B documents of the A.'.A.'.. (Class B documents are scholarly works, of an informative and practical nature.) This syllabus incorporates nearly all of the major practical instructions of the remaining grades of the Outer College, 1=10 through 4=7. Additionally, some documents are unique to the Probationer Grade. Click here for the complete syllabus of this grade.
Acording to Liber 185, “any Probationer who has accomplished his task to the satisfaction of the A.'.A.'.” is to be prepared for advancement to Neophyte.
The Probationer Grade lasts at least one year, approximately. The actual earliest date of advancement is “When the sun shall next enter the sign under which he hath been received” (Liber 185). The Probationer is to deliver a copy of the Record of the Probationer period to his Neophyte, and, at that time, to recite the chosen chapter of Liber LXV. This is to occur one month before the completion of the Probationary period (that is, at least eleven months after admission).
The Probationer is to remain free from all other engagements for one whole week (which is the length of the Neophyte initiation).
Click to Advance to Neophyte.