Aliester Crowley



(Aleister Crowley)


with an additional commentary to each chapter.

"Break, break, break
At the foot of thy stones, O Sea!
And I would that I could utter
The thoughts that arise in me!"

Publication in Classes C and D.
Official for the Grade of Babe of the Abyss.


The number of the book is 333, as implying dispersion, so as to correspond with the title, "Breaks" and "Lies".
However, the "one thought is itself untrue", and therefore its falsifications are relatively true.
This book therefore consists of statements as nearly true as is possible to human language.
The verse from Tennyson is inserted partly because of the pun on the word "break"; partly because of the
reference to the meaning of this title page, as explained above; partly because it is intensely amusing for Crowley to quote Tennyson.
There is no joke or subtle meaning in the publisher's imprint.


THE BOOK OF LIES, first published in London in 1913, Aleister Crowley's little master work, has long been out of print. Its re-issue with the author's own Commentary gives occasion for a few notes. We have so much material by Crowley himself about this book that we can do no better that quote some passages which we find scattered about in the unpublished volumes of his "CONFESSIONS." He writes:
"...None the less, I could point to some solid achievement on the large scale, although it is composed of more or less disconnected elements. I refer to THE BOOK OF LIES. In this there are 93 chapters: we count as a chapter the two pages filled rerespectively with a note of interrogation and a mark of exclamation. The other chapters contain sometimes a single word, more frequently from a half-dozen to twenty paragraphs. The subject of each chapter is
determined more or less definitely by the Qabalistic import of its number. Thus Chapter 25 gives a revised ritual of the Pentagram; 72 is a rondel with the refrain ~Shemhamphorash', the Divine name of 72 letters; 77 Laylah, whose name adds to that number; and 80, the number of the letter Pe, referred to Mars, a panegyric upon War. Sometimes the text is serious and straightforward, sometimes its obscure oracles demand deep knowledge of the Qabalah for interpretation, others contain obscure allusions, play upon words, secrets expressed in cryptogram, double or triple meanings which must be combined in order
to appreciate the full flavour; others again are subtly ironical or cynical. At first sight the book is a jumble of nonsense intended to insult the reader. It requires infinite study, sympathy, intuition and initiation. Given these I do not hesitate to claim that in none other of my writings have I given so profound and comprehensive an exposition of my philosophy on every plane...."
"...My association with Free Masonry was therefore destined to be more fertile that almost any other study, and that in a way despite itself. A word should be pertinent with regard to the question of secrecy.
It has become difficult for me to take this matter very seriously. Knowing what the secret actually is, I cannot attach much importance to artificial mysteries. Again, though the secret itself is of such tremendous import, and though it is so simple that I could disclose a short paragraph, I might do so without doing much harm. For it cannot be used
indiscriminately...I have found in practice that the secret of the O.T.O. cannot be used unworthily...."
"It is interesting in this connection to recall how it came into my possession. It had occurred to me to write a book
' One of these chapters bothered me. I could not write it. I invoked Dionysus with particular fervour, but still without success. I went off in desperation to `change my luck', by doing something entirely contrary to my inclinations. In the midst of my disgust, the spirit came over me, and I scribbled the chapter down by the light of a farthing dip.. When I read it over, I was as discontented as before, but I stuck it into the book in a sort of anger at myself as a deliberate act of spite towards my readers.
"Shortly after publication, the O.H.O. (Outer Head of the O.T.O.) came to me. (At that time I did not realise that there was anything in the O.T.O. beyond a convenient compendium of the more important truths of Free Masonry.)
He said that since I was acquainted with the supreme secret of the Order, I must be allowed the IX {degree} and obligated in regard to it. I protested that I knew no such secret.
He said `But you have printed it in the plainest language'. I said that I could not have done so because I did not know it. He went to the bookshelves; taking out a copy of THE BOOK OF LIES, he pointed to a passage in the despised chapter. It instantly flashed upon me. The entire symbolism not only of Free Masonry but of many other traditions blazed upon my spiritual vision. From that moment the O.T.O. assumed its proper importance in my mind. I understood that I held in my hands the key to the future progress of humanity...."

The Commentary was written by Crowley probably around 1921. The student will find it very helpful for the light it throws on many of its passages.

The Editors



The Ante Primal Triad which is


Nothing is.

Nothing Becomes.

Nothing is not.

The First Triad which is GOD


I utter The Word.

I hear The Word.

The Abyss

The Word is broken up.

There is Knowledge.

Knowledge is Relation.

These fragments are Creation.

The broken manifests Light.2

The Second Triad which is GOD

GOD the Father and Mother is concealed in Generation.

GOD is concealed in the whirling energy of Nature.

GOD is manifest in gathering: harmony: consideration: the Mirror of the Sun and of the Heart.

The Third Triad

Bearing: preparing.

Wavering: flowing: flashing.

Stability: begetting.

The Tenth Emanation

The world.


COMMENTARY (The Chapter that is not a Chapter)

This chapter, numbered 0, corresponds to the Negative, which is before Kether in the Qabalistic system.

The notes of interrogation and exclamation on the previous pages are the other two veils.

The meaning of these symbols is fully explained in “The Soldier and the Hunchback”.

This chapter begins by the letter O, followed by a mark of exclamation; its reference to the theogony of “Liber Legis” is explained in the note, but it also refers to KTEIS PHALLOS and SPERMA, and is the exclamation of wonder or ecstasy, which is the ultimate nature of things.


(1) Silence. Nuit, 0; Hadit; Ra-Hoor-Khuit, 1.

COMMENTARY (The Ante Primal Triad)

This is the negative Trinity; its three statements are, in an ultimate sense, identical. They harmonise Being, Becoming, Not-Being, the three possible modes of conceiving the universe.

The statement, Nothing is Not, technically equivalent to Something Is, is fully explained in the essay called Berashith.

The rest of the chapter follows the Sephirotic system of the Qabalah, and constitutes a sort of quintessential comment upon that system.

Those familiar with that system will recognise Kether, Chokmah, Binah, in the First Triad; Daath, in the Abyss; Chesed, Geburah, Tiphareth, in the Second Triad; Netzach, Hod and Yesod in the Third Triad, and Malkuth in the Tenth Emanation.

It will be noticed that this cosmogony is very complete; the manifestation even of God does not appear until Tiphareth; and the universe itself not until Malkuth.

The chapter many therefore be considered as the most complete treatise on existence ever written.


(2) The Unbroken, absorbing all, is called Darkness.





O! the heart of N.O.X. the Night of Pan.

ΠΑΝ: Duality: Energy: Death.

Death: Begetting: the supporters of O!

To beget is to die; to die is to beget.

Cast the Seed into the Field of Night.

Life and Death are two names of A.

Kill thyself.

Neither of these alone is enough.



The shape of the figure I suggests the Phallus; this chapter is therefore called the Sabbath of the Goat, the Witches' Sabbath, in which the Phallus is adored.

The chapter begins with a repetition of O! referred to in the previous chapter. It is explained that this triad lives in Night, the Night of Pan, which is mystically called N.O.X., and this O is identified with the O in this word. N is the Tarot symbol, Death; and the X or Cross is the sign of the Phallus. For a fuller commentary on Nox, see Liber VII, Chapter I.

Nox adds to 210, which symbolises the reduction of duality to unity, and thence to negativity, and is thus a hieroglyph of the Great Work.

The word Pan is then explained, Π, the letter of Mars, is a hieroglyph of two pillars, and therefore suggest duality; A, by its shape, is the pentagram, energy, and N, by its Tarot attribution, is death.

Nox is then further explained, and it is shown that the ultimate Trinity, O!, is supported, or fed, by the process of death and begetting, which are the laws of the universe.

The identity of these two is then explained.

The Student is then charged to understand the spiritual importance of this physical procession in line 5.

It is then asserted that the ultimate letter A has two names, or phases, Life and Death.

Line 7 balances line 5. It will be notice that the phraseology of these two lines is so conceived that the one contains the other more than itself.

Line 8 emphasises the importance of performing both.





Hoor hath a secret fourfold name: it is Do What Thou Wilt.3

Four Words: Naught—One—Many—All.


Thy Name is holy.

Thy Kingdom is come.

Thy Will is done.

Here is the Bread.

Here is the Blood.

Bring us through Temptation!

Deliver us from Good and Evil!

That Mine as Thine be the Crown of the Kingdom, even now.


These ten words are four, the Name of the One.



The “Hawk” referred to is Horus.

The chapter begins with a comment on Liber Legis III, 49.

Those four words, Do What Thou Wilt, are also identified with the four possible modes of conceiving the universe; Horus unites these.

Follows a version of the “Lord’s Prayer”, suitable to Horus. Compare this with the version in Chapter 44. There are ten sections in this prayer, and, as the prayer is attributed to Horus, they are called four, as above explained; but it is only the name of Horus which is fourfold; He himself is One.

This may be compared with the Qabalistic doctrine of the Ten Sephiroth as an expression of Tetragrammaton (1 plus 2 plus 3 plus 4 = 10).

It is now seen that this Hawk is not Solar, but Mercurial; hence the words, the Cry of the Hawk, the essential part of Mercury being his Voice; and the number of the chapter, B, which is Beth the letter of Mercury, the Magus of the Tarot, who has four weapons, and it must be remembered that this card is numbered 1, again connecting all these symbols with the Phallus.

The essential weapon of Mercury is the Caduceus.


(3) Fourteen letters. Quid Voles Illud Fac. Q.V.I.F. 196 = 142.





The Brothers of A∴A∴ are one with the Mother of the Child.4

The Many is as adorable to the One as the One is to the Many. This is the Love of These; creation-parturition is the Bliss of the One; coition-dissolution is the Bliss of the Many.

The All, thus interwoven of These, is Bliss.

Naught is beyond Bliss.

The Man delights in uniting with the Woman; the Woman in parting from the Child.

The Brothers of A∴A∴ are Women: the Aspirants to A∴A∴ are Men.



Gimel is the High Priestess of the Tarot. This chapter gives the initiated feminine point of view; it is therefore called the Oyster, a symbol of the Yoni. In Equinox X, The Temple of Solomon the King, it is explained how Masters of the Temple, or Brothers of A∴A∴ have changed the formula of their progress. These two formulae, Solve et Coagula, are now explained, and the universe is exhibited as the interplay between these two. This also explains the statement in Liber Legis I, 28-30.


(4) They cause all men to worship it.





Soft and hollow, how thou dost overcome the hard and full!

It dies, it gives itself; to Thee is the fruit!

Be thou the Bride; thou shalt be the Mother hereafter.

To all impressions thus. Let them not overcome thee; yet let them breed within thee. The least of the impressions, come to its perfection, is Pan.

Receive a thousand lovers; thou shalt bear but One Child.

This child shall be the heir of Fate the Father.



Daleth is the Empress of the Tarot, the letter of Venus, and the title, Peaches, again refers to the Yoni.

The chapter is a counsel to accept all impressions; it is the formula of the Scarlet woman; but no impression must be allowed to dominate you, only to fructify you; just as the artist, seeing an object, does not worship it, but breeds a masterpiece from it. This process is exhibited as one aspect of the Great Work. The last two paragraphs may have some reference to the 13th Aethyr (see The Vision and The Voice).





That is not which is.

The only Word is Silence.

The only Meaning of that Word is not.

Thoughts are false.

Fatherhood is unity disguised as duality.

Peace implies war.

Power implies war.

Harmony implies war.

Victory implies war.

Glory implies war.

Foundation implies war.

Alas! for the Kingdom wherein all these are at war.



He is the letter of Aries, a Martial sign; while the title suggests war. The ants are chosen as small busy objects.

Yet He, being a holy letter, raises the beginning of the chapter to a contemplation of the Pentagram, considered as a glyph of the ultimate.

In line 1, Being is identified with Not-Being.

In line 2, Speech with Silence.

In line 3, the Logos is declared as the Negative.

Line 4 is another phrasing of the familiar Hindu statement, that that which can be thought is not true.

In line 5, we come to an important statement, an adumbration of the most daring thesis in this book—Father and Son are not really two, but one; their unity being the Holy Ghost, the semen; the human form is a non-essential accretion of this quintessence.

So far the chapter has followed the Sephiroth from Kether to Chesed, and Chesed is united to the Supernal Triad by virtue of its Phallic nature; for not only is Amoun a Phallic God, and Jupiter the Father of All, but 4 is Daleth, Venus, and Chesed refers to water, from which Venus sprang, and which is the symbol of the Mother in the Tetragrammaton. See Chapter 0, “God the Father and Mother is concealed in generation”.

But Chesed, in the lower sense, is conjoined to Microprosopus. It is the true link between the greater and lesser countenances, whereas Daath is the false. Compare the doctrine of the higher and lower Manas in Theosophy.

The rest of the chapter therefor points out the duality, and therefore the imperfection, of all the lower Sephiroth in their essence.





The Word was uttered: the One exploded into one thousand million worlds.

Each world contained a thousand million spheres.

Each sphere contained a thousand million planes.

Each plane contained a thousand million stars.

Each star contained a many thousand million things.

Of these the reasoner took six, and, preening, said: This is the One and the All.

These six the Adept harmonised, and said: This is the Heart of the One and the All.

These six were destroyed by the Master of the Temple; and he spake not.

The Ash thereof was burnt up by the Magus into The Word.

Of all this did the Ipsissimus know Nothing.



This chapter is presumably called Caviar because that substance is composed of many spheres.

The account given of Creation is the same as that familiar to students of the Christian tradition, the Logos transforming the unity into the many.

We then see what different classes of people do with the many.

The Rationalist takes the six Sephiroth of Microprosopus in a crude state, and declares them to be the universe. This folly is due to the pride of reason.

The Adept concentrates the Microcosm in Tiphareth, recognising an Unity, even in the microcosm, but, qua Adept, he can go no further.

The Master of the Temple destroys all these illusions, but remains silent. See the description of his functions in the Equinox, Liber 418 and elsewhere.

In the next grade, the Word is re-formulated, for the Magus in Chokmah, the Dyad, the Logos.

The Ipsissimus, in the highest grade of the A∴A∴, is totally unconscious of this process, or, it might be better to say, he recognises it as Nothing, in that positive sense of the word, which is only intelligible in Samasamadhi.





None are They whose number is Six:5 else were they six indeed.

Seven6 are these Six that live not in the City of the Pyramids, under the Night of Pan.

There was Lao-tzu.

There was Siddartha.

There was Krishna.

There was Tahuti.

There was Mosheh.

There was Dionysus.7

There was Mahmud.

But the Seventh men called PERDURABO; for enduring unto The End, at The End was Naught to endure.8




This chapter gives a list of those special messengers of the Infinite who initiate periods. they are called Dinosaurs because of their seeming to be terrible devouring creatures. They are Masters of the Temple, for their number is 6 (1 plus 2 plus 3), the mystic number of Binah; but they are called “None”, because they have attained. If it were not so, they would be called “six” in its bad sense of mere intellect.

They are called Seven, although they are Eight, because Lao-tzu counts as nought, owing to the nature of his doctrine. The reference to their “living not” is to be found in Liber 418.

The word “Perdurabo” means “I will endure unto the end”. The allusion is explained in the note.

Siddartha, or Gotama, was the name of the last Budda.

Krishna was the principal incarnation of the Indian Vishnu, the preserver, the principal expounder of Vedantism.

Tahuti, or Thoth, the Egyptian God of Wisdom.

Mosheh, Moses, the founder of the Hebrew system.

Dionysus, probably an ecstatic from the East.

Mahmud, Mohammed.

All these were men; their Godhead is the result of mythopoeia.


(5) Masters of the Temple, whose grade has the mystic number 6 (= 1 + 2 + 3).

(6) These are not eight, as apparent; for Lao-tzu counts as 0.

(7) The legend of “Christ” is only a corruption and perversion of other legends. Especially of Dionysus: compare the account of Christ before Herod/Pilate in the gospels, and of Dionysus before Pentheus in “The Bacchae”.

(8) O, the last letter of Perdurabo, is Naught.





Mind is a disease of semen.

All that a man is or may be is hidden therein.

Bodily functions are parts of the machine; silent, unless in dis-ease.

But mind, never at ease, creaketh "I".

This I persisteth not, posteth not through generations, changeth momently, finally is dead.

Therefore is man only himself when lost to himself in The Charioting.



Cheth is the Chariot in the Tarot. The Charioteer is the bearer of the Holy Grail. All this should be studied in Liber 418, the 12th Aethyr.

The chapter is called “Steeped Horsehair” because of the mediaeval tradition that by steeping horsehair a snake is produced, and the snake is the hieroglyphic representation of semen, particularly in Gnostic and Egyptian emblems.

The meaning of the chapter is quite clear; the whole race-consciousness, that which is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, is hidden therein.

Therefore, except in the case of an Adept, man only rises to a glimmer of the universal consciousness, while, in the orgasm, the mind is blotted out.





Being is the Noun; Form is the adjective.

Matter is the Noun; Motion is the Verb.

Wherefore hath Being clothed itself with Form?

Wherefore hath Matter manifested itself in Motion?

Answer not, O silent one! For THERE is no “wherefore”, no “because”.

The name of THAT is not known; the Pronoun interprets, that is, misinterprets, It.

Time and Space are Adverbs.

Duality begat the Conjunction.

The Conditioned is Father of the Preposition.

The Article also marketh Division; but the Interjection is the sound that endeth in the Silence.

Destroy therefore the Eight Parts of Speech; the Ninth is nigh unto Truth.

This also must be destroyed before thou enterest into The Silence.




Teth is the Tarot trump, Strength, in which a woman is represented closing the mouth of a lion.

This chapter is called “The Branks”, an even more powerful symbol, for it is the Scottish, and only known, apparatus for closing the mouth of a woman.

The chapter is formally an attack upon the parts of speech, the interjection, the meaningless utterance of ecstasy, being the only thing worth saying; yet even this is to be regarded as a lapse.

“Aum” represents the entering into the silence, as will observed upon pronouncing it.





The Abyss of Hallucinations has Law and Reason; but in Truth there is no bond between the Toys of the Gods.

This Reason and Law is the Bond of the Great Lie.

Truth! Truth! Truth! crieth the Lord of the Abyss of Hallucinations.

There is no silence in that Abyss: for all that men call Silence is Its Speech.

This Abyss is also called “Hell”, and “The Many”. Its name is “Consciousness”, and “The Universe”, among men.

But THAT which neither is silent, nor speaks, rejoices therein.



There is no apparent connection between the number of this chapter and its subject.

It does, however, refer to the key of the Tarot called The Hermit, which represents him as cloaked.

Jod is the concealed Phallus as opposed to Tau, the extended Phallus. This chapter should be studied in the light of what is said in “Aha!” and in the Temple of Solomon the King about the reason.

The universe is insane, the law of cause and effect is an illusion, or so it appears in the Abyss, which is thus identified with consciousness, the many, and both; but within this is a secret unity which rejoices; this unit being far beyond any conception.

Chapters 11 - 25                Chapters 26 - 40                  Chapters 41 - 60          

Chapters 61 - 80            Chapters 81 - 91

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