Images of Cefalu by Frater Orpheus

  Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law

The following images were painted by Aleister Crowley on the interior and exterior faces of a double door which hung on the south-west wall of the “Chambre des Cauchemars”, (the Chamber of Nightmares) at the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Italy.  Each door consisted of six panels (3 interior and 3 exterior) containing a separate but related image.  The inner panels feature six landscapes while the exterior panels contain depictions of six figures.  These doors still survive in the private collection of the La Calce family, who for generations, have owned the property the Abbey sits upon.  For a time, Yorke considered publishing images of these doors along with a collection of Crowley’s art, which would have been a fantastic book, but the project never materialized.  Thankfully, these images were recovered by Richard Cole who first published them in his book “Thelema Revisited” in 2007.  A copy has recently been made available, free to download, exclusively for registered members of the Lashtal web page.  (click here to join)

Crowley gives a brief description for each of these images, along with the other paintings within the chamber, in a manuscript entitled the “Paintings in the Chambre des Cauchemars” which is today found in the archives of Syracuse University.  This essay begins as a sort of tourist’s introduction to the Abbey of Thelema which is followed by a catalog of the paintings therein.  Presumably written while the Abbey was in operation and for the purpose of attracting Aspirants.  However, it appears “incomplete” and remained unpublished during Crowley’s lifetime.

This manuscript was first published in 1981 by Ebony Anpu and Stellar Visions under the title of “Cefalu” which was later republished in the Thelema Lodge newsletter as a two part series in May and June 1995.  It has since appeared several other times yet every copy I’m aware of, including my own previously posted notes, contained a few errors – many of which can be traced back to this first printing.  For the preparation of these notes I referenced the original manuscript – noted the errors and have now restored Crowley’s descriptions, which are priceless pearls of wisdom, to their proper order.

Crowley wrote that “the purpose of these pictures is to enable people, by contemplation, to purify their minds…” and added this description of the Chambre des Cauchemars, “the purpose of this room is to pass students of the Sacred Wisdom through the ordeal of contemplating every possible phantom which can assail the soul.”

(Click on images for expanded view)

The Inner Panels




Byzantine Cathedral in Holland – “The soul, however fantastic its faith, can dominate, and harmonize with, the most brilliantly attractive yet conventional environment.”








Moonlight on the Watzee-Matterhorn – “Illumination comes in its season to one who lives in a house on the mountain-side, in the shadow of the Holy Trinity, and is ready to embark on the Sea of Death.”








Venus on the Loing Canal – “If you make a proper Way for your Will, and dwell in peace thereby, Love and Beauty will not fail to visit, unveiled and at ease.”








Old Cathedral by the Sea in Thunderstorm – “The soul is immune to the attacks of circumstance.”









The Great Booby Glacier – “The summits of the soul, purity (of ice) and environment (of rock) send forth a slow irresistible river which, melting as it reaches the outer world, fertilizes the Valleys of Life.”








Blasted Oak being Blasted Some More – “Nature soon destroys altogether those who have already lost the principle of Life by arousing anger. Lightning only damages things that are not capable (in kind or degree) of conducting it. Make yourself One with ALL Things.”




The Outer Panels




The Devil our Lord – “The Sacred Symbols, the Horns of Power, the Egg of Purity, Safety and Life etc., exist in the most terrifying of appearances. Everything that is, is Holy.”








The Beast, Robed as a Major Adept, in Balistan – “Wisdom and Power may be applied to the most remote regions of experience.”









The Scarlet Woman in Bokhara – “Love is ready to travel to every part of the world and stand supreme there.”









Portrait of a Wife of a British Official – “If you allow yourself to depend upon the system, you become like a sow.”









Undergraduate bathing – “The first task of a young man is to “cleanse his way”; he should bear the scarlet banner, which stands for Light, Life, Love, and Liberty.”








Acrobatic Blonde on High Bar in the Coliseum of Ed Djem – “Purity and Beauty, self-balanced, compel the attention and applause of the whole world.”





Love is the law, love under will

Frater Orpheus


Frater Orpheus

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