Belief and Confession: The Creed of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica

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Belief and Confession: The Creed of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica

By honing belief into a tool, one avoids becoming the tool of belief.

The Creed of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica appears in Liber XV: The Gnostic Mass as written by Aleister Crowley. It directly follows the proclamation of the law in the Ceremony of the Introit. Comprised of eight clauses – six beliefs and two confessions – the Creed identifies those forces and doctrines central to the Mass and the life of each individual.

The first four clauses of the Creed correspond to Tetragrammaton, the elemental magical formula expressed in the divine name YHVH. The following two affirm the “communion of Saints” and the “Miracle of the Mass”, these being the essential products of the Mass. The final two acknowledge parallels between Liber XV and one’s life.

I find myself impelled to address three questions. Firstly, what does the recitation of the Creed accomplish? Secondly, why should it be included in the Mass? Lastly, as it pertains to the Creed, how does belief fit into the anti-superstitious frameworks of Thelema and scientific illuminism?

In any group endeavor, it is wise to ensure that everyone is on the same page. The Creed serves as a bridge to a conceptual commons: the holy of holies, where earth and sky meet (“Greeting of Earth and Heaven”, as the Priestess says). It is thus an evocative reality-mapping exercise, potentiating a gestalt that enhances the intimacy of the Mass and entrains the congregants to a common frame of reference.

The Qabalistic basis of the Creed is evident in its use of Tetragrammaton and the supernals. “The ineffable LORD” describes Kether, the Unqualified Absolute or Unconditioned Being; “the sole viceregent of the Sun upon the earth”, CHAOS, is a name of Chokmah; and BABALON symbolizes Binah, Earth, and Womb. The centrality of generative powers to the Creed – namely, the supernal pair and their synthesis in BAPHOMET – connote solar phallicism and sex magick. The Gnostic, Catholic, ecclesiastical, and eucharistic aspects of Liber XV are addressed in clauses 3-6. The penultimate clause references BAPHOMET by the term “Baptism of Wisdom”, identifying sex as the key to the “Miracle of Incarnation” in unambiguously sex-positive language. The final clause posits a transcendent Self unrestricted by time and space, pointing to the doctrines of soul, reincarnation, and metempsychosis.

These overlapping contexts speak to a distinctive set of values that is at odds with institutional patriarchy. Reciting the Creed is a firm rejection of slave morality. Clause 4 states, “And I believe in one Gnostic and Catholic church of light, life, love, and liberty, the word of whose law is Thelema”. In that Thelema (Will) is coterminous with self-determination, verbalizing the Creed is a potent symbolic act of rebellion against oppressive old aeon doctrines – and, by proxy, dogmatic theology and institutional religion. It is accurate to view it as an invocation of Horus.

Bearing these considerations in mind, the Creed is appropriately sequenced. The congregation front-loads themselves with a narrative that triggers an altered state of consciousness and contextualizes the rest of the ritual. This is arguably in the vein of neuro-linguistic programming and self-hypnosis, and Liber XV proceeds upon the vibrant foundation laid thereby.

The word “belief” remains saddled with the fetters of religious dogma. The method of science demands skepticism, not blind faith – but one must be wary of confusing skepticism with cynicism. The former connotes an open-minded suspension of judgment and credulity, the latter a predisposition to denial or apathy. The former is a scientific attitude; the latter is bias. While grounding the Creed’s articles of belief in a scientific cosmogony, its twilight language excites the imagination, informing and enhancing a suprarational ritual state. It is undesirable for the mind to recoil at figurative language or metaphor.

Under the paradigm of scientific illuminism, belief is a programmatic tool. Memorizing the tables of correspondence in 777 establishes a specialized cognitive superstructure (i.e. a neural network in the brain) that responds to ritual stimuli as a prerequisite to practicing ceremonial magick. Using techniques such as visualization, the vibration of magical formulas, and symbolic gestures, the practitioner triggers a crescendo of psychosexual energy representative of orgasm and directs it toward a desired outcome. Belief is the vehicle of the reification of Will.

While any belief can yield magical value if properly held – no matter how absurd – there are distinct benefits in scientific grounding. For example, it is less likely to induce the rational mind to protest; rational beliefs are easier to justify to oneself, and thus easier to incorporate. However, Crowley’s emphasis on yoga necessitates the sublimation of the rational, conscious mind to Will – to become arbitrary or one-pointed. As Swami Vivekananda wrote in Raja Yoga,

The Yogi is supposed to have finished his period of controversy. He has had enough of that, and has become satisfied. He only studies to intensify his convictions.

By honing belief into a tool, one avoids becoming the tool of belief.

Properly understood, the Creed becomes a magical weapon against superstition, tyranny, and oppression. In choosing to believe consciously in the aim of self-empowerment, in identifying with the timeless over the time-bound, the third power of the Sphinx comes into play: to dare. As Prometheus dared to steal fire from the gods, as Melek Taus dared to defy the Creator’s command to bow to Adam, by reciting the Creed each congregant dares to swim against the current, proclaiming that each individual is the One God – and inviting all to partake of the joyous sacrament of life in a spirit of total responsibility and love under will.

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