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Letters between Crowley and Frieda Haris

Morton House, The Mall, Chiswick May 10th, 1939

Dear Aleister,

Your secretary forgot to send the letter you wrote to me & she has rung me up to read it to me. I am, also, sorry that I have to write plainly to you, because I enjoy our friendship & your instruction very much, but it is entirely spoilt by your attempts to use me as your bank & financial adviser. I have frequently told you that I have nothing, but a weekly allowance, & that out of it I have given you all I can spare. If you are expecting the Tarot to be a means of getting money, or my position as useful for pushing it--I am sorry I am not the right vehicle for such an enterprise as I intend to remain anonymous when the cards are shown as I dislike any notoriety. Your books are wonderful but you must not expect the reading or money making world to buy them as they don't want to think & ...

[remainder missing, possibly not copied from collection]

Monday, Sept. 18th [1939]

Dear Aleister,

Will you go to Le Chatier Sarve in St James Street and ask them if they can mount my drawings in the same way as the ones you have as a sample. If it would not bother you perhaps you could take one with you. Also please ask the price. I have thought of Green & Stone but they haven't any good assistants now & can't be trusted. There was a very good man on the left going down Pelham Street, small shop with a few frames hanging up & if he still exists he did some fine framing & mounting for Nick & was not too dear, but I don't remember his name. The Rowley Gallery in Church Street, Notting Hill Gate can do the work but they are fussy & very opinionated. I am particularly anxious to get the drawings covered with a non inflammable talc of which the departed assistant at Gates had the name. I wonder if you could extort from Blow-Bubbles what it was called.

 I do not find the names of the Cards in the Index you have sent at all illuminating in fact it took me hours to sort which was which. They are much too flamboyant, & I prefer the old names don't you. I hate all those rushing words & feel I've alighted in Taliesom. What am I to print in the surrounds, because I won't do them wrong, it is very hard work.

 I have done the 10 of Swords & promptly Russia takes up arms. Where are we going! You haven't sent me the notes on the Fool. Did you no-tice. Have you seen that all the Sephiroths in the Index are spelled wrong, at least nearly all--an awful bother if they get printed like that.

 Also I don't feel you have made it clear about Tzaddi-- The Emperor. Can't you have a diagram? I have been reading your book to Ann Christie in the evenings & altho she is very interested she could not understand your book and I am not sure I did in the end. It will be a point about which there will be the most argument. Is there any reason for the 2 loops except secrecy? Surely! & if not why not undo the loop & is the Emperor to be numbered 17 or IV or 4 or 17 ditto Star also Strength XI and Justice VIII. I expect I have still got it all wrong but if I have, you must be clearer because I am only just below sub-normal intelligence. A bientot

Frieda Harris

[P.S.] I can't go & see Fox owing to petrol ban, neither can he come & see me & who is Miss ?Beddulph anyhow & where is she. I will try & make you a beautiful diagram if you could make a rough

[manuscript diagram]

& I think we could have 4 & 17 on a swivel to twist 'round. Quite amusing also the Sun could have the Zodiac pushed round.

Rolling Stone Orchard Chipping Campden Glos

Nov. 3rd, 1939

Dear Aleister,

The picture did not arrive because my friends at Woolstaplers Hall were away & the house shut up & you know I have never lived there, & when your letters don't arrive it is because they are away & there is no one to take in letters. It would be much better to write to the above address. The picture has arrived safely now. I have written to Michael Juste. Steptoe must have finished more photographs as he sent me the account.

 I think I have found someone to continue stretching the pictures & mounting them at Leamington & am going to see him on Sunday I hope. There is a lot of work to be done on those mounts.

I think it would be a good plan if you could arrange to come here one day next week & see the Swords. I have a superstitious horror of bringing them all unbalanced to London.

As it is, we are driven mad with soldiers here & if I don't get on with the Pantacles this will be a garrisson town (I know that is incorrectly spelt but I have no dictionary & the longer I look at it the more peculiar it looks).

 I find the pub "The Noel Arms" is quite nice. Would next Tuesday suit you. There is a good train from Paddington 1.45 arriving Chipping Campden 4.24 & a station bus to bring you from the station. You might like to stay Wednesday & return Thursday as they tell me, the rooms are not available at the week-end.

Please let me know at once if this is possible for you--I shall hope you will come as my guest. I will send ticket if I can. I only hope the Swords are alright for I can't do them again. I have followed your instructions with meticulous care. About yr curtains. The ones at Whiteleys are much too small. Those windows are enormous. If you need them Mr Blanche tells me she has seen some blankets which will look alright. I have used them here instead of curtains & find them most cozy & look quite nice. I do not want to buy curtains for that flat as I want to give it up. I am doing the King of Pantacles. I didn't like what I had done. Someone has lent me a genuine flail--it is like this

[manuscript drawing of flail]

a lovely instrument of solid wood. Most difficult to manage. Why don't you like my egg question. Is it because you don't know the answer? I think it is interesting because the living egg must be charged with, let us call it, electric current to make it move. To me it is a magical feat. I thought it would be to you. There is no trick and it is the country people's method of testing eggs here.

Yours ever

F. H.

Dear Aleister Mohammed,

Princess & Child doing well. I will try to answer your letter clearly. I. I have a diagram of the Twist of the Zodiac. Would you like me to make a conventional diagram of your rough?

II. Would you send your notes with a paper fastener {drawing] not a clip [drawing] as the thing comes undone & I can't put the papers in right order & get eyestrain?

III. Alright about Hylton, have attended to it.

IV. I sent that heading of the border as I was not certain it was right. I am not sure what to do. I shall have to try again. Of course I can devide Wands & Disks so that they look dqually & I don't want a crowd of printing at the bottom but I will try out what you suggest. "More work for the undertaker" says I.

V. In reference to your books--I suppose you know that most of them would be easier for a Beginner written in Sanscrit & that anyone reading them would go off their heads. Therefore the Wise ("like myself") take them in snappy bits & only when they are feeling strong. Also they are very exciting & I can't live on hot curry tho you can--I can't even remember what I meant by that Nanny Nanny [?]. I'm glad I was unintelligible, such a change round for you, & anyhow I don't care for just look at the stucco work you have planned out for me--"Push the Cups deeper! Twist the whole card round" Oh! but these things are all on 1 plane &, unless I start applique or sculpture, it can't be begun. However I knew we should have to do something, & as far as the paper, the texture, the design, will endure I will do as you say. I will also do a new Justice, damn her. Do you think there was ever "a woman satisfied"? With what a smirk she would greet the dawn. But, all the same, I want to finish all the experimental work first, tho Mercury is yelling to re-enter the Womb & Incarnate with his Companions. I mean to plod thro the Pantacles & the Universe, & by that time, you'll be able to alter all the Cards & have them in & out of costly frames & we will finish like Alice through the Looking Glass by having the whole pack on our heads. Goodnight.

F. H.

57, Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey.

19th December, 1939.

Dear Frieda,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Benediction arrived this morning arrived from Father Jackson. I am very happy and grateful. I was going to send you a classic of purity, but I have not yet been able to get the special copy that I had intended for you. I have been terrifically worried. I have not had a word from Germer since his letter of November 30th, and this is very unusual. Normally, I hear at least once, more often twice a week. This has meant continuous anxiety and frustration. My characteristic idiocy has just been giving another demonstration. I have been wondering for a week why it hurt to carry coal upstairs, and it only dawned upon me last night that it was lumbago, so I then turned on the infra-red and it was all right in half an hour. This is a very strange thing about me; something goes wrong, which is perfectly familiar, and I know the remedy quite well, and I am simply unable to put two and two together. I don't know why that is. A very queer psychological kink. Now your letters received yesterday.

1. Yes, please make a conventional diagram.
2. I cannot accept your terminology for either of the unsatisfactory instruments occasionally employed for keeping papers together. I have acted however, on the indications afforded by your sketches. Freud would deduce a great deal from your preference.
3. Thanks very much about Hylton.
4. The word "divide" has for many years been years been used by myself in preference to what is no doubt the correct expression "devide". I know of course that division can be done in this lop-sided fashion, but I do not like the spoiling of the winged globe in any case, an an even more serious objection is that you are making particularly shadowy the one thing that should, by rights, be the most clear.
 5. You can't get out of it like that. I believe the basis of the feeling is that there should be a special prerogative to understand spiritual matters, a feeling of heirship. The fact remains that you do not employ such arrogant impertinence with regard to such subjects as logic and mathematics. Bertrand Russell is certainly a thousand times more difficult than ever I am, but you understand him better because you accept the postulate, that subjects like these must be worked at, as with me you are annoyed.

My experience of satisfied women is that they do greet the dawn with a smirk; if not the dawn, any time up to five o'clock in the afternoon, and only when it wears off does one have to start all over again.

 I have long foreseen the "Alice in Wonderland" conclusion of our labours, but that if you remember was the signal for the awakening to the beauty of life.

 I got the photographs with great joy. I do not remember the colours of the Three of Swords, but the centre of the rose should be deep crimson, and the veins of the petals black and very wavy. Ten of Cups. This is admirable, but I can't tell much about the background; it ought to look menacing. There is something very sinister about this card. It suggests the morbid hunger which springs from surfeit. The craving of a drug addict is the idea. At the same time, of course, it is this final agony of descent into illusion which renders necessary the completion of the circle by awakening the Eld of the All-Father.

These notes on Justice, or as we have preferred to call her 'Adjustment'. Please note this title. In reading through my description of the card, I noticed a correction to be made, Phalax should be Phallic. There are several mistakes in spelling and punctuation, but no doubt you can put these right by your own ingenium. I suppose I was in a very bad temper when I made my criticism, but I do feel strongly that the plumes of Maat are too insignificant, and the Dove and Raven look simply stuck on; nor do I think that the tessellated pavement is quite right. The general criticism is that the card is a little too cold; Liber is the sign of autumn, season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close-bosomed friend of the maturing sun. In your card you have got the idea of balance static, whereas it ought to be dynamic. Nature is not the grocer weighing out a pound of sugar; it is the compensation of complicated rhythms. I should like you to feel that every adjustment was a grande passion; compensation should be a festival, not a clerk smugly pleased that his accounts are correct. It seems to me that this doctrine is very important as a commentary on the text "Existence is pure joy", and I feel sure that the connection of Venus and Saturn with the sign is significant in this respect. The compensation is surely the awakening of the Eld of the All- Father, the constant reproduction of the original purity from the last stage of illusion. (Compare what I said above about the number Ten).

What an extraordinary thing to say! To retain one card may be different from all the other cards. The great difficulty of this whole work is to make a completely harmonious pack; that is why I wrote so strongly about the private Private View.

Your feeling about having no forms and faces is merely symptomatic of modern soul-sickness. It is lack of confidence in one's creative powers. It is the root of homo-sexuality as understood in this country and of all these crazy movements, the Neo-Thomists, and the Buchmanites and the Dadaists and the Surrealists. Picasso took it far enough; he tried to paint a chair which could not be any particular chair, and must therefore have no colour and no form, but as every chair, in order to be a chair, must have a support for the human frame, he did a horizontal line. But this is metaphysics and not art; all these half-sexed, half- witted people, sicklied o'er with the pale caste of thought, I cannot believe that any of them will ever command either the Exeter, the Ajax or the Achilles, and any man who is not potentially capable of doing that, is not a man at all; he may be some kind of pudding, and I hold no brief against puddings, but all these people who resent simplicity resent manhood, they weave their own onanistic web of nastiness; these are the shells cast off from the Tree of Life, these are the larvea of abomination. It has been your evil fortune to have far too much to do with such people without a proper clinical training, such as would have enabled you to diagnose their malady; they have small orts of cleverness without any breadth of vision or balance, without the sense of space, of nature, of fresh air. Their fiddling little ingenuities appeal to you rather as a chess problem or a jig-saw puzzle appeals to some of us in moments of idleness, but you did not have the psychological and pathological knowledge to keep you from making the fatal false step over the precipice of common sense; you have taken these abortive insects seriously. It is perfectly true in one sense to say that the only thing to be done is to fill up some stupid official paper correctly, but that is only true within the universe of discord of that paper, and the belief in thee artificial ingenuities is liable to become a nightmare, and that is when you do have to say "It's nothing but a pack of cards."

The whole world as I see it is at present lost in constipations of this kind; the real needs of humanity are what they have always been, food, shelter, love and freedom. That, roughly speaking, is the general true will of the species, and all devices, which are not subservient to this will, are errors.

To return to `Adjustment'; those birds bother me very much. I don't think they belong. I think they come from Noah's Ark. It would be better to simplify this card by leaving them out altogether. I feel sure that when you get the Venus and Saturn dancing motive firmly in your mind, you will produce a lady whom you will like better.

I must emphasise that this fear of faces is an appalling symptom of cowardice. It is surely a natural instinct to connect expression with moral ideas, and it is moral ideas, or more correctly magical ideas, that you are out to illustrate. It did not matter so much in this particular card because of the tradition of Justice being blind, but on the other hand, the masking of the face suggests deceit which is the absolute opposite of the intention of the card; it was the familiars of the Inquisition, it was the Vehngericht that administered what they called Justice, hooded. Impartiality is a lovely idea, but it doesn't get you very far; if the impartial person may be impersonated by a demon of malignant darkness. I will now try to do you something about Mohammed.

Love is the law, love under will,

Yours fraternally,

[Aleister Crowley]

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Published on: 2005-08-18 (5554 reads)

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