Thoughts on Liber AL’s III:47 Mystery

Aleister Crowley’s channelled work from 1904, generally known as the Liber AL vel Legis, or Book of the Law, has, since shortly after its publication attracted those who love riddles. The book has numerous mysterious verses, several of which overtly challenge the reader to unravel them. Crowley himself had a fair crack at decoding these, with, as he himself admitted, limited success, something the work itself also seemed to have predicted would be the case.

To incentivise the quest still further, the book strongly implies that the one who does manage to unravel certain verses will be Crowley’s successor and the new child of the aeon. The chief contender for this title, back in the day, was Charles Stansfeld Jones, better known as Frater Achad, a Canadian occultist famed for his somewhat extreme spiritual journey. Some fifteen years after the Liber AL was published, Crowley acknowledged that Fr. Achad had indeed cracked certain riddles and was thus the new child of the aeon predicted by the work itself.

Yet, Fr. Achad’s mystical career had its ups and downs, finally resulting in him being expelled by Crowley from his order, the O.T.O. This left, in the minds of many, the riddles of the Liber AL once again unsolved, it also being the case that Achad’s solutions, whilst accepted in part, seemed not considered to be complete. So let’s take a look.

The most significant riddle is found in Chapter 3, verse 47. The original of this page had a grid superimposed on top of it and looks like this.

The text of the complete verse reads, “This book shall be translated into all tongues: but always with the original in the writing of the Beast; for in the chance shape of the letters and their position to one another: in these are mysteries that no Beast shall divine. Let him not seek to try: but one cometh after him, whence I say not, who shall discover the Key of it all. Then this line drawn is a key: then this circle squared ⊕ in its failure is a key also. And Abrahadabra. It shall be his child & that strangely. Let him not seek after this; for thereby alone can he fall from it.”

The verse suggests that it contains several riddles. Let’s go through them:

  • in the chance shape of the letters and their position to one another: in these are mysteries that no Beast shall divine – This suggests that the mystery will be lost if the text is rendered into typeform or anything similar. It further suggests that either Crowley himself, or no ordinary man, both of which might be denoted by the term “Beast,” will be unable to penetrate them. The capitalisation of “Beast,” to my mind suggests Crowley, rather than an ordinary man. But, at the same time, the syntax suggests more than one individual.
  • Then this line drawn is a key – this seems to clearly indicate that the slanted line part-crossing the page is a key to the mystery.
  • then this circle squared ⊕ in its failure is a key also – this also seems to clearly indicate that the circle with a cross inside of it is also a key.
  • And Abrahadabra – this seems to indicate that the word may be a key. Or maybe it refers to the phrase that comes after it.

I will not go into the heaps of attempts that have been, made over the years, to unravel this page of text, and the various other mysteries the book contains. Save to say that at least one complete book has been written about it. And a whole Alphanumeric system devised in its wake. I just want to put out here what jumped out at me when I looked at this page.

The page is famous for being the only one with a grid and a line drawn across it. I assumed that these things were in some way connected. What I noticed was that the line, for most of it’s length, and especially in its middle passed directly through the corners of the grid, suggesting a 2 unit by 1 unit right-angle triangle. This would mean that the hypotenuse of that triangle would be the square root of 5 in length. My geometry is really weak. But I understand that root 5 (2.236…) is associated with the golden ratio, the golden rectangle, plus the Fibonacci Sequence and its associated spiral. Further than this I have not got.

The “circle squared in it’s failure” did not jump out at me so much. Squaring the circle seems to be related to an old problem in mathematics – how to make a square with the same area as a given circle, allowing only a finite number of steps. In the late 1800s, it was finally proven that this could not be done, implying, I guess, failure. It’s also related to alchemy, in the form of a famous emblem where a circle rests inside a square, inside a triangle, inside a larger circle. Finally, an “x” inside a circle is an early version of the Hebrew letter Teth.

Further with the mystery of Liber AL III:47 I have not got. And it may well be that others have noticed the same before, though a quick Google search did not reveal anyone to me. Do leave a comment if you can make more progress.

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