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The Salient Points of the

The Great Work, for the Philosophus, is defined as, “to obtain control of the attractions and repulsions of my own being.”

Philosophus is a Latin noun meaning, “philosopher,” from the Greek philosophos, “a lover of wisdom;” or, by derivation, “philosopher.” Liber 185 comments on the grade name:

Let him remember that the word Philosophus is no idle term, but that Philosophy is the Equilibrium of him that is in the house of Venus that is the Lady of Love.


There is no admission ritual to the grades of Practicus, Philosophus, or Dominus Liminis. Advancement “is conferred by authority when the task of the Zelator is accomplished” (Liber XIII). The details are given in Liber 185, Paper E., par. 0, as follows:

Let any Practicus be appointed by authority to proceed to the grade of Philosophus.
Let him then read through this note of his office, and sign it.
Let him cause the necessary addition to be made to his Practicus’ robe.
Let him make an appointment with his Philosophus at the pleasure of the latter for the conferring of advancement.

The Philosophus robe is identical to that of the Practicus, but with the addition of an eight-colored Calvary cross to the breast. (There is, as yet, no insignia at the center of the cross.) The cross is implicitly composed of six one-inch squares, i.e., the vertical bar is one inch wide and four inches high, and the horizontal bar is one inch high and three inches wide. The eight colors come from halving the horizontal bar horizontally and the vertical bar vertically. From the perspective of looking at the cross, the top bar (Air) is yellow on the right and violet on the left; the left bar (Fire) is red at the top and green on the bottom; the right bar (Water) is orange on the top and blue on the bottom; and the bottom bar (Earth) is black on the left and white on the right.

As in the Practicus Grade, the Philosophus is admonished by Liber 185 not to venture, while a member of this grade, to attempt to withdraw from association with the Order. The intent is that an aspirant, once having moved off the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life (by advancing to Practicus) persevere at least to the point of equilibrating themselves, again on the Middle Pillar, in the Grade of Dominus Liminis.


Philosophus. - Is expected to complete his moral training. He is tested in Devotion to the Order. (One Star in Sight)
He practices Devotion to the Order. (Liber XIII)
He shall in every way establish perfect control of his devotion according to the advice of his Dominus Liminis, for that the ordeal of advancement is no light one. (Liber 185)

These statements more or less speak for themselves. Anything further should be discussed, as above counselled, by the Philosophus with his or her Dominus Liminis.


He shall pass examinations in Liber CLXXV. (Liber 185)
Instruction and Examination in Methods of Meditation by Devotion (Bhakti-Yoga). (Liber 13)

The Philosophus is to practice that form of yoga or magick which has devotion (worship) as its core. The Philosophus is only required to pass examination in methods, not in results, of Bhakti Yoga.

The official A.'.A.'. instruction in Bhakti Yoga is Liber 175, called Liber Astarte vel Berylli (The Book of Astarte, or The Book of the Beryl). Unlike most exclusively Eastern texts on the matter, it allows for the ready incorporation of the aspirant’s considerable skill and capacity in ceremonial magick, and is an excellent text especially of that preliminary phase called Gauni Bhakti. The Philosophus is to undertake the work of Liber Astarte.

INTERPRETATION: Although the Philosophus is only examined in methods and not in results, results likely will ensue if method is correct. To define Bhakti Yoga as “Methods of Meditation by Devotion” is to paint a pale picture of a vivid and majestic landscape. Netzach is associated with Fire as well as with Venus; and, far from being the placid affection we often have heard described, Bhakti Yoga is a fiery devotion to the Divine, generally in the “person” of a particular deity whom one can regard as one’s personal “Lord” or “Lady.” Swami Vivekananda quoted Narada as explaining, “Bhakti is intense love for God.” Nor is this passionate devotion for the timid. Vivekananda continued:

The. . . means to the attainment of Bhakti-Yoga is strength. “The Atman is not to be attained by the weak,” says the Sruti. Both the physical and the mental weaknesses are referred to in the above text. “The strong and the hardy,” are the only fit students of religion.


Instruction and Examination in Control of Action. (Liber XIII)
He shall moreover attain complete success in Liber III, Cap. II. (Liber 185)

The actual task is “control of action.” One tool that is given for this purpose is the second part of Liber III, that is, Liber Jugorum.


Furthermore, he shall construct the magic Wand, according to the instruction in Liber A. (Liber 185)
Further, he cuts the Magic Wand. (Liber XIII)

The Path of A’ayin

He shall pass examinations... in Construction and Consecration of Talismans and in Evocation. Yet in this matter he shall be his own judge. (Liber 185)
Instruction and Examination in Construction and Consecration of Talismans, and in Evocation. Theoretical and Practical. (Liber XIII)

Two aspects of traditional ceremonial magick must be mastered at this point: evocation, and the construction and consecration of talismans. Examination is both theoretical and practical; that is, the magician not only must know how to make and create talismans, and how to evoke spirits, but actually must do so. However (consistent with the greater reliance that is placed on the aspirant’s inner guidance in this Grade), the Philosophus is his or her own judge as to success in this. One Star in Sight gives the standards that are to be used in evaluating success:

The power to make and “charge” talismans is tested as if they were scientific instruments of precision, as they are... in evocation, the spirit called forth must be at least as visible and tangible as the heaviest vapours.

There are no official A.'.A.'. instructions specifically devoted to these topics. The Philosophus will need to consult traditional magical literature. However, in addition to the methods of the Neophyte Formula, there are a few relevant guidelines in the official instructions:

COMMENTARY: “A talisman,” Aleister Crowley wrote in Magick Without Tears, “is a storehouse of some particular kind of energy, the kind that is needed to accomplish the task for which you have constructed it.” In Magick in Theory & Practice he defined it more simply as, “something upon which an act of will (that is, of Magick) has been performed in order to fit it for a purpose.” Most broadly speaking, any object at all may serve as a talisman, and the aspirant likely will need to understand it in this light. However, in the classical sense it has a more particular application, referring to specific “objects of power” created according to known formulae to be optimally suited to receive their charge. Examples of these, in different forms, can be found in the Lesser and Greater Keys of Solomon, and the writings of Agrippa, Barrett, Levi, and others.

Evocation is more difficult to define simply, because conflicting definitions are proffered by diverse reputable authorities. In simple terms, this is the classical method of commerce with that class of nonmaterial beings commonly titled “demons” or “spirits.” Some hold that these “spirits” are objective, distinct beings. Others side with Crowley’s view at the time he edited The Lesser Key of Solomon, that, “The spirits of the Goetia are portions of the human brain.” Still others, more familiar with later psychologies, credit them as semi-autonomous aspects of subconsciousness. We do not undertake to resolve these differences in the present place. What can be said with general agreement is that the “spirits” in question are “elementals” in the pure sense of the word, i.e., constituent parts of a microcosm. They are evoked — called forth, or called out of oneself — whereas Divine and Archangelic beings are invoked, or called into oneself, to fill oneself. These elementary spirits are native to the densest parts of Yetzirah, verging on physical manifestation, so that they are favored by magicians who aspire to have direct magical impact on physical phenomena.

The Path of Nun

Further, he shall apply himself to study and practice the meditations given in Liber V. (Liber 185)
He is given a meditation-practice on the Senses, and the Sheaths of the Self, and the Practice called Mahasatipatthana. (See The Sword of Song, Science and Buddhism). (Liber XIII)
Nun. The Preparation of the Corpse for the Tomb. Liber XXV. (Liber Viarum Vić)

Although these citations are a little obscure, it is entirely clear what practice is being assigned. The method is called Mahasatipatthana. It is a structured application of Buddhist methods of “mindfulness,” applied to such body phenomena as breathing and walking. (The references to Liber V and Liber XXV, in this instance, refer to the essay “Science & Buddhism,” which can be found in Crowley’s Collected Works.)

The Path of Samekh

He shall show some acquaintance with and experience of Liber O, Caps. V, VI. Whereof his Record shall be witness. (Liber 185)
Examination in Rising on the Planes (Liber O, caps. V, VI). Practical. (Liber 13)
Samekh. Skrying in the Spirit Vision. ‘The Ladder of Jacob.’ Liber O. (Liber Viarum Viae)

The technique of Rising on the Planes is described in Liber O, Caps. V and VI. A further discussion on the method is given in Magick in Theory & Practice, Cap. XVIII, Sec. III. As stated above, the examination in this method is practical; that is, one must not merely study it, but must do it! The Philosophus’ record is used to witness the practical experience, and as the basis of passing for grading success.


The Philosophus is to commit to memory one of the seven chapters of Liber 813. This is Liber Ararita. This Class A document is “an account of the Hexagram and the method of reducing it to the Unity, and Beyond,” accordig to the Syllabus. “It describes in magical language a very secret process of Initiation.”

Besides all this, he shall make constant and profound reflections upon the Path. (Liber 185)


Click here for a complete annotated listed of the Philosophus Syllabus.


Authority grants advancement from Philosophus to Dominus Liminis when the Task of the Philosophus has been satisfactorily completed. There is no minimum time and no ritual of advancement.

“When the title of Dominus Liminis is conferred upon him, let him rejoice exceedingly therein; but beware, for that it is but the false veil of the moon that hangs beneath the Sun.” (Liber 185)

Click to Advance to Dominus Liminis.

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