[From BOOK 4, by Fra. Perdurabo and Sor. Virakam (Aleister Crowley and Mary d'Estes Sturge
[From BOOK 4, by Fra. Perdurabo and Sor. Virakam (Aleister Crowley and Mary
An Interlude. [Footnote: This chapter was dictated in answer to a casual
remark by Soror Virakam. Fra. P. said jokingly that everything contained
the Truth, if you knew how to find it; and, being challenged, proceeded to
make good. It is here inserted, not for any value that it may have, but to
test the reader. If it is thought to be a joke, the reader is one useless
kind of fool; if it is thought that Fra. P. believes that the makers of the
rimes had any occult intention, he is another useless kind of fool. Soror
Virakam chose the rimes at hazard.]
Every nursery rime contains profound magical secrets which are open
to every one who has made a study of the correspondences of the Holy
Qabalah. To puzzle out an imaginary meaning for this "nonsense" sets one
thinking of the Mysteries; one enters into deep contemplation of holy
things and God Himself leads the soul to a real illumination. Hence also
the necessity of Incarnation; the soul must descend into all falsity in
order to attain All-Truth.
Old Mother Hubbard
Went to her cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone;
When she got there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.
Who is this ancient and venerable mother of whom it is spoken?
Verily she is no other than Binah, as is evident in the use of the holy
letter H with which her name begins.
Nor is she the sterile Mother Ama -- but the fertile Aima; for
within he she bears Vau, the son, for the second letter of her name, and R,
the penultimate, is the Sun, Tiphareth, the Son.
The other three letters of her name, B, A, and D, are the three
paths which join the supernals.
To what cupboard did she go? Even to the most secret caverns of the
Universe. And who is this dog? Is it not the name of God spelt
Qabalistically backwards? And what is this bone? The bone is the Wand, the
The complete interpretation of the rune is now open. This rime is
the legend of the murder of Osiris by Typhon.
The limbs of Osiris were scattered in the Nile.
Isis sought them in every corner of the Universe, and she found all
except his sacred lingam, which was not found until quite recently (vide
Fuller, "The Star in the West").
Let us take another example from this rich storehouse of magick
Little Bo Peep
She lost her sheep
And couldn't tell where to find them.
Leave them alone!
And they'll come home,
Dragging their tails behind them.
"Bo" is the root meaning Light, form which spring forth such words
as Bo-Tree, Bodhisattva, and Buddha.
And "Peep" is Apep, the serpent Apophis. THis poem therefore
contains the same symbol as that in the Egyptian and Hebrew Bibles.
The snake is the serpent of Initiation, as the Lamb is the Saviour.
This ancient one, the Wisdom of Eternity, sits in its old anguish
awaiting the Redeemer. And this holy verse triumphantly assures us that
there is no need for anxiety. The Saviours will come after the other, at
their own good pleasure, and as they may be needed, and drag their tails,
that is to say those who follow out their holy commandment, to the ultimate
Again we read:
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating of curds and whey,
Up came a big spider,
And sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffett away.
Little Miss Muffett unquestionably represents Malkah, for she is
unmarried. She is seated upon a "tuffet"; _id est_, she is the unregenerate
soul upon Tophet, the pit of hell. And she eats curds and whey, that is,
not the pure milk of the mother, but milk which has undergone
But who is this spider? Verily herein is a venerable arcanum
connoted! Like all insects, the spider represents a demon. But why a
spider? Who is this spider "who taketh hold with her hands, and is in the
Kings Palaces"? The name of this spider is Death. It is the fear of death
which first makes the soul aware of its forlorn condition.
It would be interesting if tradition had preserved for us Miss
Muffett's subsequent adventures.
But we must proceed to consider the interpretation of the
Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner,
Eating a Christmas pie.
He stuck in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said, "What a good boy am I!"
In the interpretation of this remarkable poem there is a
difference between two great schools of Adepts.
One holds that Jack is merely a corruption of John, Ion, he who goes
-- Hermes, the Messenger. The other prefers to take Jack simply and
reverently as Iacchus, the spiritual form of Bacchus. But it does not
matter very much whether we insist upon the swiftness or the rapture of the
Holy Spirit of God; and that it is he of whom it is spoken here is evident,
for the name Horner could be applied by none other than even the most
casual reader of the Holy Gospel and the works of Congreve. And the context
makes this even clearer, for he sits in a corner, that is the place of
Christ, the Corner Stone, eating, that is, enjoying, that which the birth
of Christ assures to us. He is the Comforter who replaces the absent
Saviour. If there was still any doubt of His identity it would be cleared
up by the fact that it is the thumb, which is attributed to the element of
Spirit, and not one of the four fingers of the four lesser elements, which
he sticks into the pie of the new dispensation. He plucks forth one who is
ripe, no doubt to send him forth as a teacher into the world, and rejoices
that he is so well carrying out the will of his Father.
Let us pass from this most blessed subject to yet another.
Tom, Tom, the piper's son,
Stole a pig and away he run.
The pig was eat,
And Tom was beat,
And Tom went roaring down the street.
This is one of the more exoteric of these rimes. In fact, it is no
much better than a sun-myth. Tom is Toum, the God of the Sunset (called the
Son of Apollo, the Piper, the maker of music.) The only difficulty in the
poem concerns the pig; for anyone who has watched an angry sunset in the
Tropics upon the sea, will recognize how incomparable a description of that
sunset is given in that wonderful last line. Some have thought that the pig
refers to the evening sacrifice, others that she is Hathor, the Lady of the
West, in her more sensual spect.
But it is probable that this poem is only the first stanza of an
epic. It has all the characteristic marks. Someone said of the Iliad that
it did not finish, but merely stopped. This is the same. We may be sure
that there is more of this poem. It tells us too much and too little. How
came this tragedy of the eating of a merely stolen pig? Unveil this mystery
of who "eat" it!
It must be abandoned, then, as at least partially insoluble. Let us
consider this poem:
Hickory, dickory, dock!
The mouse ran up the clock;
The clock struck one,
And the mouse ran down,
Hickory, dickory, dock!
Here we are on higher ground at once. The clock symbolizes the
spinal column, or if you prefer it, Time, chosen as one of the conditions
of normal consciousness. The mouse is the Ego; "Mus", a mouse, being only
"Sum", "I am", spelt Qabalistically backwards.
This Ego or Prana or Kundalini force being driven up the spine, the
clock strikes one, that is, the duality of consciousness is abolished. And
the force again subsides to its original level.
"Hickory, dickory, dock!" is perhaps the mantra which was used by
the adept who constructed this rime, thereby hoping to fix it in the minds
of men; so that they might attain to Samadhi by the same method. Others
attribute to it a more profound significance -- which is impossible to go
into at this moment, for we must turn to: --
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;
Humpty Dumpty got a great fall;
All the king's horses
And all the king's men
Couldn't set up Humpty Dumpty again.
This is so simple as hardly to require explanation. Humpty Dumpty is
of course the Egg of Spirit, and the wall is the Abyss -- his "fall" is
therefore the descent of spirit into matter; and it is only too painfully
familiar to us that all the king's horses and all his men cannot restore us
to the height.
Only the King Himself can do that!
But one can hardly comment upon a theme which has been so fruitfully
treated by Ludovicus Carolus, that most holy illuminated man of God. His
masterly treatment of the identity of the three reciprocating paths of
Daleth, Teth, and Pe, is one of the most wonderful passages in the Holy
Qabalah. His resolution of what we take to be the bond of slavery into very
love, the embroidered neckband of honour bestowed upon us by the King
himself, is one of the most sublime passages in this class of literature.
Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater,
Had a wife and couldn't keep her.
He put her in a peanut shell;
Then he kept her very well.
This early authentic text of the Hinayana School of Buddhism is much
esteemed even to-day by the more cultured and devoted followers of that
The pumpkin is of course the symbol of resurrection, as is familiar
to all students of the story of Jonah and the gourd.
Peter is therefore the Arahat, who has put an end to his series of
resurrections. That he is called Peter is a reference to the symbolizing of
Arahats as stones in the great wall of the guardians of mankind. His wife
is of course (by the usual symbolism) his body, which he could not keep
until he put her in a peanut shell, the yellow robe of a Bhikku.
Buddha says that if any man became an Arahat he must either take the
vows of a Bhikku that very day, or die, and it is this saying of Buddha's
that the unknown poet wished to commemorate.
Taffy was a Welshman
Taffy was a thief;
Taffy came to my house
And stole a leg of beef.
I went to Taffy's house;
Taffy was in bed.
I took a carving knife
And cut off Taffy's head.
Taffy is merely short for Taphtatharath, the Spirit of Mercury and
the God of Welshmen or thieves. "My house" is of course equivalent to "my
magick circle." Note that Beth, the letter of Mercury and "The Magus",
means "a house."
The beef is the symbol of the Bull, Apis the Redeemer. This is
therefore that which is written, "Oh my God, disguise thy glory! Come as a
thief, and let us steal away the sacraments!"
In the following verse we find that Taffy is "in bed", owind to the
operation of the sacrament. THe great task of the Alchemist has been
accomplished; the mercury is fixed.
One can then take the Holy Dagger, and separate the Caput Mortuum
from the Elixer. Some Alchemists believe that the beef represents that
dense physical substance which is imbibed by Mercury for his fixation; but
here as always we should prefer the more spiritual interpretation.
Bye, Baby Bunting!
Daddy's gone a-hunting.
He's gone to get a rabbit-skin
To wrap my Baby Bunting in.
This is mystical charge to the new-born soul to keep still, to
remain steadfast in meditation; for, in _Bye_, Beth is the letter of
thought, Yod that of the Hermit. It tells the soul that he Father of All
will clothe him about with His own majestical silence. For is not the
rabbit he "who lay low and said nuffin'"?
Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man!
Bake me a cake as fast as you can!
Pat it and prick it and mark it with P!
Bake it in the oven for baby and me!
This rime is usually accompanied (even today in the nursery) with a
ceremonial clapping of hands -- the symbol of Samadhi. Compare what is said
on this subject in our famous "Advent" passage in Thessalonians.
The cake is of course the bread of the sacrament, and it would ill
become Frater P. to comment upon the third line -- though it may be
remarked that even among the Catholics the wafer has always been marked with
a phallus or a cross.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank