“I had no magical object in going to Algiers, which I reached on November 17th. As my chela, I took Frater Omnia Vincam, a neophyte of the A∴A∴ disguised as Victor Neuburg. We merely wanted to rough it a bit in a new and interesting corner of the planet … with no particular objective beyond filling our lungs with pure air and renewing the austere rapture of sleeping on the ground and watching the stars…
… “I cannot imagine how the idea came to me. Perhaps I happened to have in my rucksack one of my earliest magical notebooks, where I had copied with infinite patience the nineteen Calls or Keys obtained by Sir Edward Kelley from certain angels and written from his dictation by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer with whom he was working.”
—from The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
So Victor and Aleister walked out into the desert evoking one Key of the manuscript per day, passing Bou Saada on the way to Biskra (just as Tim and Rosemary had done). They were aimlessly wandering, walking round in circles in the sand waiting for an omen or a sign, feeling around with their extrasensory perceptions like the tip of a dowser’s wand.
“I became subtly aware that this Work was more than the impersonal exploration which I had intended to make. I felt that a hand was holding my heart, that a breath was whispering words in a strange tongue…’
‘We went far out from the city into a hollow amongst the dunes. There we made a circle to protect the scribe and a triangle wherein the Abyss might man-
The Abyss is that part of your trip where there is no orientation. On the way
up your body seems to liquefy into wriggling vibrations, a no-man’s land between earth and heaven, often perceived as frightening and monstrous. To get through this region painlessly you lie still and relaxed and “Go with the flow.” Crowley however, decides to put the upward shift on “hold,” stop the elevator between floors as it were, and blag his way past the demon door- man. He scores a circle in the sand, and in case he flips out, arms Neuburg with a consecrated dagger to keep him at bay. Then he sits himself down outside the protective circle in a triangle also scored in the sand and begins to vibrate the magic Key from Dee and Kelley’s manuscript. Crowley is not conjuring a demon, he is becoming one!
“The name of the Dweller in the Abyss is Choronzon, but he is not really an individual. The Abyss is empty of being; it is filled with all possible forms, each equally inane, each therefore evil in the only true sense of the word—that is, meaningless but malignant, in so far as it craves to become real. These forms swirl senselessly into haphazard heaps like dust devils, and each such chance aggregation asserts itself to be an individual and shrieks, ‘I am I!’ though aware all the time that its elements have no true bond; so that the slightest disturbance dissipates the delusion just as a horseman, meeting a dust devil, brings it in showers of sand to the earth.” Ibid.
Neuburg, watching and taking notes from the relative security of the circle, sees him pass through a series of changes as the demon Choronzon possesses his consciousness. Aleister appears to become a woman that Victor had once loved, then a snake with a human head, then such a string of images and words that Neuburg, disorientated and dazzled by the imagery does not see that he is being purposefully distracted, and that all the time he is speaking Choronzon is dribbling sand over the line of the circle. Then the entity possessing Crowley’s body rushed at Neuburg “flung him to the earth and tried to tear out his throat with froth-covered fangs.” Victor invokes the names of God and fights him off with the dagger till he runs off into the desert and cools out.
Then the entity possessing Crowley’s body rushed at Neuburg “flung him to the earth and tried to tear out his throat with
“During all this time I had astrally identified myself with Choronzon, so I experienced each anguish, each rage, each despair, each insane outburst. My ordeal ended as the last form faded; so, knowing that all was over, I wrote the holy name of BABALON in the sand with my magical ring and arose from my trance. We lit a fire to purify the place and destroyed the Circle and Triangle. The work had lasted over two hours and we were both utterly exhausted, physically and every other way. I hardly know how we ever got back to Bou Saada.” Ibid
As I read Aleister Crowley’s “Confessions” my mind goes back; I remember that it was actually before the peak of the trip, when I was high on fasting and had shortly before eaten a chunk of primo Afghani hashish, that a cowled man surrounded by a dust devil had appeared along with the name Dr. Dee and a scroll of manuscript.
Now, as I learn that Aleister was himself cowled, and see that he describes the demon Choronzon possessing him as being a coagulation of forms that “swirl senselessly into haphazard heaps like dust devils” (“dust devils” is the same expression used in my notes), I realize that it was Choronzon that I saw in the desert! “… and each such chance aggregation asserts itself to be an individual and shrieks ‘I am I’! though aware all the time that its elements have no true bond.”
Evidently, writing BABALON in the sand with his ring and building a “great fire to purify the place” was not enough, Crowley had left a swirl of psychic pollution hanging about shouting “I am Dr. Dee!” and waving the manuscript.
After Bou Saada I felt something tremendous had happened, Liz said I looked illumined, and I had that privileged feeling and a warmness inside me as if sometime, somewhere I must have done something right. And it all coincided with Easter, a time of epiphany, an up thrust of energy following the sacrifice of the Mouton Festival after the purification of the Tindouf escapade—I had been in a ritual without knowing it!
Memories flood back; the dawn sky, feeling as if we had been called to this
place by unknown forces, directed by ultrasonic voices or guided by ley lines under the desert sands.
Then there was that strange “coming together of the sky” that I had witnessed with Elizabeth the night following the Bou Saada experience, as if time itself had snapped into place—TimESPace.
I wonder if the old wizard himself, Dr. Dee, ever came to Bou Saada, a few centuries back with Kelley? They certainly did a lot of traveling around Europe together, either sponsored by the Bohemian Emperor Rudolf II or living off their alchemy and their wits—not unlike Tim and myself. They had similar pressures to contend with as well; at one time Dee was accused of plotting to kill Mary Tudor by drugs or magic and so many crimes are attributed to Kelley that it’s a wonder he had time for anything else.
When the discovery was made that Crowley and Neuburg had been to Bou Saada, Tim wrote, referring to himself and Rosemary:
“We touched base at Bou Saada. We did not realize until Brian Barritt told us months later that we were following exactly the route which Aleister Crowley took on his search for desert illumination. The eerie synchronicities between our lives and that of Crowley, which were later to preoccupy us, were still unfolding with such precision as to make us wonder if one can escape the programmed imprinting with which we are born. At times it seemed so Oedipally prepackaged.”—Confessions of a Hope Fiend, Timothy Leary, Bantam Books, 19732
Our meditations are interrupted at this point by the appearance of Kenneth Kahn and his assistant Sherri requesting an interview with Tim (Later published in the LA Free Press in the US and Oz magazine in the UK).
Q: Why did you go to Algeria?
A: I was hypnotized by Bernadine Dohrn3 for whom I would go anywhere. Actually we went to Algeria to meet Brian Barritt and perform certain magical actions demanded by the Aleister Crowley, Victor Neuburg reincarnation script.
Q: Were those your respective prior names? A: Apparently.
Q: Did you make this discovery under the influence of LSD?
A: The full moon pilgrimage to the desert in Bou Saada was fuelled by all the alchemy we could conjure up. The precision of this reincarnation dance was revealed a year later upon reading The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.
—Oz, November 1972.
Shortly after we have discovered Crowley’s Confessions Tim comes bounding upstairs waving the book and pointing to a passage; “Look at this” he says, “What do you think of that?”
“Then the Angel bade me understand whereto my aspirations led; all powers, all ecstasies, ended in this—I understood. He then told me that my name was Nemo, seated amongst the other silent shapes in the City of the Pyramids under the Night of Pan; those other parts of me that I had left for ever below the Abyss must serve as a vehicle for the energies which had been created by my act. My mind and body, deprived of the ego which they had hitherto obeyed, were now free to manifest according to their nature in the world, to devote themselves to aid mankind in its evolution. In my case I was cast out into the sphere of Jupiter. My moral part was to help humanity in Jupitarian work, such as governing, teaching, creating, exhorting men to aspire to become nobler, holier, worthier, kinglier, kindlier, and more generous.”
—from The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
“I’m Nemo,” he says “Those are all the things I want to do.”
I am not terribly impressed; sure they describe him but they also describe every other religious teacher throughout the whole of history, with a little imagination I could apply them to myself. If you look into occult writings you find something you identify with right away, it’s like staring into a mirror
and agreeing with yourself that it’s a good likeness. So I say “Yes, Timothy it describes you to a T but Nemo is just ‘omen’ backwards and I have enough omens without going 20,000 leagues under the sea to look for more.” My remarks do not phase him at all, he’s still full of enthusiasm and for the next couple of weeks he is lit up like a light bulb, calling himself either Timo or Nemo and signing himself with a smiley face in the O and radials shooting out of it like rays from the sun.
Note: It is only after I have finished this manuscript, 20 years after the event, that Liz, flipping through the pages of a Crowley book someone has left behind, called Gems From the Equinox, reads out an interesting foot-note: “The river-bed near Bou Saada.”
Brian Barritt, probably tripping
It’s in a section called The Vision and the Voice that contains a record of Crowley and Neuburg’s mescaline ceremonies in the Algerian desert.
The precision of this reincarnation dance was revealed a year later upon reading The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.
Tim and I were pretty freaked to find we had tripped by accident in the same area as the previous psychedelic explorers, now I find we have tripped in the same place! On the 4th Dec. 1909 Crowley and Neuburg stood in the sand where the river bells out just as Tim and I had done, they were performing the 13th Aether, using the call “Zim,” not by full moon like ourselves but in broad daylight in the afternoon. The entity they contacted was called Nemo.
Nemo tells Crowley about a garden—representing the earth—and informs him that he is a rare flower and that he has just inherited the post of head gardener. The Gardener tends the garden making it possible for other flowers to grow, one of them, already growing, will be the Nemo to come. Crowley’s report gives the impression that he is taking over from the former Nemo and preparing the way for the next—a line of gurus unfolding. I think that on Easter Sat/Sun 1971 Tim inherited Crowley’s old job.
- Here Barritt refers to Timothy and Rosemary Leary’s “house arrest” hospitality at the hands of exiled Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver at Cleaver’s headquarters in Algeria. Cleaver initially welcomed the Learys but later became paranoid and “arrested” them.
- The title of this book is also a Crowley homage, combining the titles of Crowley’s books The Diary of a Drug Fiend and The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.
- Bernadine Dohrn, co-founder of the “Weather Underground,” a cell of urban terrorists that splintered from the student New Left. Dohrn assisted Leary’s prison break.
ROBERT ANTON WILSON
The next step in whatever is wrong with me again involved Timothy Leary.
I was conducting a series of experiments in July—August 1973—following the Sirius Transmission—in which I attempted astral projection. I met all sorts of odd and amusing entities on all sorts of astral planes, but none of those experiences ever developed into anything evidential. However, I was continually interrupted during my voyages by impressions of Leary doing similar experiments in his cell at Folsom. I also had visions of him flying over the walls of the prison.
I specifically mentioned these experiences of ESP-contact with Leary in an article on Tantric yoga, published in the Chicago Seed [an underground publication of the day] in September 1973.
It was four years later, in 1977, that Lynn Wayne Benner, who was Leary’s closest friend in Folsom, told me of the events of that August of 1973. According to Benner, Leary and he were not only doing the interstellar ESP experiments described below but also tried experiments at levitation, in which they attempted to fly over the walls of Folsom.
I wrote to the warden of Folsom in late August, and asked for permission to correspond with Dr. Leary. Bureaucratic red tape being what it is, this permission was delayed for several weeks.
Shortly after the telepathic flashes of Leary (July—August 1973) ended, Walter Culpepper, the attorney for P.R.O.B.E.—a Leary created organization to abolish prisons—had a benefit for the Leary Defense Fund and PR.O.B.E. Two rock groups played and then we were shown “At Folsom Prison With Timothy Leary, Ph.D.,” produced by Joanna Leary.
The film blew the Skeptic’s mind. Timothy came on screen and immediately flashed the famous Love-Peace-Bliss grin at the camera—as if he were greeting visitors to his home. We never saw a man look less like a suffering martyr. Tim took a chair and answered the interviewer’s questions in a serious and thoughtful manner, explaining that he wasn’t interested in drugs any more since they had only been “microscopes” to reveal the focus and re-focus possibilities of the nervous system. He wanted to talk about something more exciting now—Outer Space. The interviewer kept leading him back to drugs, and Leary kept maneuvering back to Cosmic Dimensions.