The American Astrologer Evangeline Adams once owned a small cottage in the town of Hebron, New Hampshire near the tip of what is now called Newfound Lake – but Crowley knew it as lake Pasquaney. He took residence there while on magical retirement in the year 1916. A retreat from which he would emerge forever transformed.
Now I’m not suggesting that Adams cabin become our Kiblah but do think it could serve as a pilgrimage for Thelemites in American searching for spots of historic significance… and just so happens to be in a region known for its beautiful lakes and abundant camping opportunities which offer an array of outdoor activities. By most accounts, a wonderful place to visit in the summer.
Crowley’s own retreat to Newfound Lake occurred at a pivotal moment in his life, that of achieving the Grade of a Magus in the A∴A∴ —
This was also a prolific period for Crowley. He penned eight short stories (later released as the Golden Twigs), The Gospel According to St. Bernard Shaw, a good deal of his Astrological writings, An Improvement on Psycho-analysis, Liber 633, Liber 73 (in-part), Independence Day, The Law of Liberty, and several documents related to his restructuring of the OTO
It was also during this period that Crowley would have a profound vision which he would come to call the “Star Sponge Vision” and described it as thus–
“I lost consciousness of everything but a universal space in which were innumerable bright points, and I realized this as a physical representation of the universe, in what I may call its essential structure. I exclaimed: ‘Nothingness, with twinkles!’ … ‘But what Twinkles!’”
He later elaborates…
“… Each stage in the process was like the joy of a young eagle soaring from height to height in ever increasing sunlight as dawn breaks, foaming, over the purple hem of the garment of ocean, and, when the many coloured rays of rose and gold and green gathered themselves together and melted into the orbed glory of the sun, with a rapture that shook the soul with unimaginable ecstasy, that sphere of rushing light was recognized as a common-place idea, accepted unquestioningly and treated with drab indifference because it had so long been assimilated as a natural and necessary part of the order of Nature. At first I was shocked and disgusted to discover that a series of brilliant researches should culminate in a commonplace. But I soon understood that what I had done was to live over again the triumphant career of conquering humanity; that I had experienced in my own person the succession of winged victories that had been sealed by a treaty of peace whose clauses might be summed up in some such trite expression as “Beauty depends upon form”. It would be quite impracticable to go fully into the subject of this vision of the Star-Sponge, if only because its ramifications are omniform. It must suffice to reiterate that it has been the basis of most of my work for the last five years, and to remind the reader that the essential form of it is ‘Nothingness with twinkles.’” — Comm. to Liber AL, Ch. I, v. 59.
Yet of all that transpired during Crowley’s retreat, most significant, in my opinion was his transformation into the Grade of a Magus.
Although Crowley had formally assumed the Grade of Magus on October 12th of 1915, taking the motto “To Mega Therion”, it was while at Adam’s cottage that he really began to contemplate the implications of this Grade. Ultimately, concluding that certain ineffable obstacles remained which barred him from fully accomplishing the Grade on a Magical level. There were also certain technical Grade requirements which he had not yet fulfilled. For instance, note that in One Star in Site it clearly states that “No attainment soever is officially recognized by the A∴ A∴ unless the immediate inferior of the person in question has been fitted by him to take his place.” – However, unbeknownst to Crowley and right on que, Frater Achad took the Oath of a Magister Templi and passed through the Abyss. On July 11th news of this event reached Crowley who recorded in his diary, “Heard from S.H. Fra NEMO 8° = 3⸋ of his attainment of that Grade. This removes a bar to my full grade of 9° = 2⸋…”
The very next day a rather unusual event occurred which may be explained by the phenomenon now known as “ball lightening” or may be something altogether alien? In either case, that evening Crowley reports that a storm suddenly struck. Concerned that he would lose his canoe he ran down to the lake to secure it and when he returned to Adam’s cottage he discovered that a small family of three had taken refuge under his roof. He was in no mood for guests but also did not want to throw them out in the storm. So, he excused himself and went to his room to change out of his wet clothes. Crowley wrote, “I had just got the clean shirt on when a globe of fire burst a few inches from my right foot. A spark sprang to the middle joint of the middle finger of my left hand.” Crowley took this as a sign from the Gods writing, “The masters still need me; the initiation is real.” – he would later report this event in a letter to the New York Times.
Even with this “sign” and even though the barrier of having an inferior fitted to take his place had been removed Crowley still felt as if he had hit a Magical road block of sorts. In frustration, later that same evening he records in his journal,
“I am tempted for example to crucify a toad or copulate with a duck or sheep or goat or set a house on fire or murder someone – with the idea, a perfectly good magical idea, of course – that some supreme violation of all the laws of my being would break my Karma or dissolve the spell which seems to bind me.”
Crowley would of course infamously choose to crucify a frog in a sort of mock-up “passion play” and then ceremoniously ate its legs. The details of this ritual are given in Liber LXX from which I quote,
“Now then take a vessel of water, and approach the frog saying: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, I Baptize thee, O creature of frogs, with water, by the name of Jesus of Nazareth… During the day thou shalt approach the frog whenever convenient, and speak words of worship. And thou shalt ask it to perform such miracles as thou desirest to be done; and they shall be done according to thy Will… and all this while thou shalt be secretly carving a cross whereon to crucify him… Night being fallen, thou shalt arrest the frog and accuse him of blasphemy, sedition and so forth…”
Today the town of Hebron has changed little since Crowley’s time and Adam’s cottage still stands almost untouched by time. Ironically it is located right next door to a church which happens to sponsor the towns largest annual event, a fair held on the last Saturday of each July. It’s as if the locals have been unwittingly celebrating the culmination of the events described above. Maybe we could have an outdoors NOTOCON here some year or some other Thelemic event. We could maybe take a booth at the churches annual fair and sale barbecue frog legs to the locals??? I am sure they would welcome us with open arms… once they got to know us.