THE RIDDLE OF AL AND ITS COUNTLESS SOLVERS

With each passing year, I believe it is more important than ever to put the Riddle of AL into proper perspective.

Marco Visconti
5 min readApr 9, 2023

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“The Writing of The Book of the Law, 1904" by Mitchell Nolte

Every April, we celebrate the Reception of Liber AL vel Legis in 1904 e.v. — the ground zero for Thelema, the ushering in of the New Aeon of the Crowned and Conquering Child, Horus.

Or was it?

Over the past years, the whole story of the reception has been put into question by several people, especially after the publication of Liber L. vel Bogus — The Real Confession of Aleister Crowley by Richard T. Cole.

The book raises some crucial questions and does an excellent job of leaving the reader with the question if Crowley did not just invent it all to create a new religion with himself as the founder. But it never shows something that gives the 100% proof needed, and to make things worse, the author has promised such evidence ever since but has yet to deliver it. At the same time, he keeps on teasing on several Thelemic forums and Facebook Groups.

In the meantime, more and more people are writing on the same virtual pages to announce to the world they solved the Riddle of Liber AL, which is the task needed to establish themselves as the true heir of the Prophet of Thelema. For those of you who are new to all of this, here are the verses that keep us all wondering:

Aye! listen to the numbers & the words:

4 6 3 8 A B K 2 4 A L G M O R 3 Y X 24 89 R P S T O V A L. What meaneth this, o prophet? Thou knowest not; nor shalt thou know ever. There cometh one to follow thee: he shall expound it. But remember, o chosen one, to be me; to follow the love of Nu in the star-lit heaven; to look forth upon men, to tell them this glad word.

  • AL II:75–76

In 2020 alone, I counted no less than 4 solutions, and they all show very neatly how easy it is to bend Qabalah left and right to suit one’s narrative. Yet, I am constantly baffled by the fact that none of these true heirs actually provide a way to use the solution, nor do they ever go on to do anything useful to the rest of mankind.

Some of you might also recall that this Riddle is at the very basis of the Secret Cypher of the UFOnauts of Hellier’s fame, and in many ways, that connections are the only actual practical application I have personally witnessed in my 20-odd years as a Thelemite — and the actual reason why I got so interested in that show. The more time passes, the more I become convinced that the real goal of Magick is not only to provide a way towards Equilibrium but, once done so, to establish a connection with those higher intelligences that keep trying to talk to us. And even if, on the surface, Hellier might seem just yet another ghost-hunting show, the resonance it is having is, for me, worth investigating further.

But back to the Riddle: Crowley himself speaks about the Reception of Liber AL vel Legis in another of his books, The Equinox of the Gods:

This Book proves: there is a Person thinking and acting in a praeterhuman manner, either without a body of flesh, or with the power of communicating telepathically with men and inscrutably directing their actions. I write this therefore with a sense of responsibility so acute that for the first time in my life I regret my sense of humour and the literary practical jokes which it has caused me to perpetrate. I am glad, though, that care was taken of the MS. itself and of diaries and letters of the period, so that the physical facts are as plain as can be desired. My sincerity and seriousness are proved by my life. I have fought this Book and fled it; I have defiled it and I have suffered for its sake. Present or absent to my mind, it has been my Invisible Ruler. It has overcome me; year after year extends its invasion of my being. I am the captive of the Crowned and Conquering Child.

So is there a preterhuman intelligence behind the Book, or is it all just a practical joke? Is it, like Richard T. Cole infers in his books, that Crowley did fake the Reception, planned a somewhat convoluted joke whereby he would disseminate hints here and there of this otherwordly connection only to then fail at delivering them properly, leaving behind a Riddle that would, in the end, give proof of his “practical joke”?

However, what if it wasn’t Crowley that set this up. What if it was Aiwass that set Crowley up.

Crowley had a big ego, so hearing words like Holy Chosen One and Prophet were essential to get him to participate. Given a puzzle of sorts. Crowley struggles to understand it and writes about its meaning even though Aiwass said:

“What meaneth this, o prophet? Thou knowest not; nor shalt thou know ever.”

So Crowley took the bait first. And his struggles with the text and search for an explanation added great significance to finding a solution for anyone watching. Through this, Aiwass has created a honeypot, like the tired trope of a pretty woman on the side of the road struggling with a flat tire, with every asshole driving by suddenly trying to be a hero, getting to take a shot at being the chosen one.

A lesson in how important it is to keep the lower ego at bay while working Magick, which is particularly hard to do once you have achieved the Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel since that’s where you need to exalt the ego to the Solar Consciousness.

Magick: all about Balance.

In the end: does all of this matter?

Thelema has been inspiring mankind for over a century now, and despite it still having to manifest in the way Crowley promised, there are little doubts it is here to stay — maybe just under a different guise than most occultists would like. Transcendental Meditation, the return of Tarot, Astrology, practical magick, the rise and fall and rise again of Chaos Magick: all of this is Thelema — albeit in a much-simplified form.

And so we continue trying to find a Solution to a Riddle that, very likely, is nothing but a cosmic joke.

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Marco Visconti

⟁ “The Aleister Crowley Manual: Thelemic Magick for Modern Times” out now.