Some Resources For Contemplating the EGC Gnostic Mass

According to Ordo Templi Orientis’ U.S. Grand Lodge website: “Aleister Crowley wrote Liber XV in 1913 in Moscow, the year after his appointment by Theodor Reuss as the X° Head of the British Section of O.T.O. According to W. B. Crow in A History of Magic, Witchcraft and Occultism (Aquarian Press, London 1968), Crowley wrote it “under the influence of the Liturgy of St. Basil of the Russian Church.” Crowley published the Gnostic Mass three times during his life: in 1918 in The International, in 1919 in The Equinox, Volume III, No. 1 (the “Blue Equinox”), and in 1929 in Appendix VI of Magick in Theory and Practice. Theodor Reuss published a German variant in 1918. It was first publicly celebrated on Sunday, March 19, 1933 e.v. by Wilfred T. Smith and Regina Kahl in Hollywood, California.”

You can find the current version of the Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil here:


You can listen to recordings of Crowley intoning the first four “Collects” from the Mass.


Frater Lux Ad Mundi


  1. I liked your included audio it inspired me. thoughts of energy, fire and motion… abundent joy.

  2. Do What Thou Wilt Shall be the Whole of the Law.
    It was first publicly celebrated on Sunday, March 19, 1933 e.v. by Wilfred T. Smith and Regina Kahl in Hollywood, California.”
    I would question “Publicly.” and enquire about “first.” These masses were attended and “full-dress” but for the Members of Agape, so, “Private” I believe in the senses of not advertised or “accessible” to non-affiliates. But this is not my quibble.
    My understanding is that the Mass was performed at Cefalu. “We were Five,” says Aleister somewhere, referring to the first conscious explorers in Thelemic Community: Aleister, Alostrael, Ninette, and the two Boys, Dionysius and Apollo. (?) The exact number and complement to perform Liber XV.
    Moonchild and Diary of a Drug Fiend seem to give literary, fictionally presented expositions of the Life Cefaloedian in practice. I had come to believe that “public” (outdoor, in natural Greek amphitheater) performances of Liber XV were performed at Cefalu, and that Jane Wolfe had performance notes to give to Agape. True, Untrue, Unknown, strongly speculated? Nikolai G. described it as if he had seen it with his own eyes, which sometimes happens when we “see” something that we know happened, e.g., Did Aleister do LBR, then Tum or Tum then LBR in the Whore’s cell? Turns out the former, which I remember because I do it that way too.
    Shortest version: Does our tradition state that Liber XV was performed by AC et. al. at Cefalu, say, for Cecil Maitland to record, as does his fictionalized doppelganger Peter Pendragon?
    Love is the Law, Love Under Will,
    Michael M.

  3. Dost ‘a get my gist?
    I’m just asking, not to quibble about 1933 = “first” – wait, no, that IS my quibble — do we think Liber XV was performed at Cefalu, publically enough that a passer by would recognize that a ritual was being enacted (as opposed to silent, personal, meditative internal redactions which could not be homologous with “public” by any reasonable stretch?) tx, luv ya, 93’s.
    [ ]

    • Dear Micheal
      According to Crowley scholar Dr. Richard Kacyznski:
      There are indications that the Detroit crew were *rehearsing* the Gnostic Mass, but I haven’t seen any evidence that they ever got to the point of *doing* the Mass.

      We know that the daily routine at Cefalu included recitations of sections of the Gnostic Mass, and Crowley says he recited the Anthem at Raoul Loveday’s funeral. But that doesn’t mean that the Mass was actually celebrated en toto. Crowley’s complete Cefalu diaries don’t survive, but what we’ve seen from him and other people there gives no evidence (to my knowledge) that the full Gnostic Mass was ever performed. So for a long time, the prevailing opinion was that the Mass at Agape Lodge was the first one.

      Then along came Stephen J. King’s edition of “The Legend of Aleister Crowley.” It includes an article where Crowley says something to the effect that “At Cefalu we used to do a ceremony called the Gnostic Mass.” This was the first hard evidence that the Mass was actually celebrated at Cefalu. Crowley said it, it must be true. Case closed, yes?

      Not so fast. Clive Harper determined that this article “by” Crowley was actually ghost-written for him by a reporter who had had a conversation with ACSo it isn’t actually Crowley saying those words, which leaves room for the possibility that the reporter got some of his facts wrong. For instance, did Crowley say “At Cefalu we used to recite excerpts from a ceremony called the Gnostic Mass” and the ghost writer got it wrong?

      So the jury is still out.
      I hope this helps.

      Frater Lux Ad Mundi

  4. Forgive me from being nit-picky, but the Russian Orthodox St. Basil Liturgy is not the same one used by the Coptic Orthodox Church. The churches aren’t even in communion as the Coptic one is part of the Oriental Orthodox family of churches.

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