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A Treatise on Astrology, Liber 536 by Aleister Crowley, 1917

Preface

Astrologers sometimes make mistakes. From this fact, which even they are scarcely sufficiently brazen to dispute, it follows with mathematical certainty that astrology is not a science but a sham, a quackery and a fraud . I Contrast its shameful uncertainty with medicine, where no doctor ever lost a patient ; with law where no lawyer ever lost a case, or even with arms, where no soldier ever lost a battle!

It is true that nine times out of ten, an astrologer glancing at a stranger can tell at what hour of the day he was born. This must be guesswork, for we do not see how it is done or can be done. It is an obvious canon of all sound philosophy that unless we know exactly how things happen, we must deny that they do happen, or, if ever philosophy cannot so far close eyes on actuality, we must ascribe them to chance. Thought of this altitudinous brilliance is the guarantee of human progress; it reminds one of the sun rising over the crest of some mighty pyramid of rock and ice, crowned with the everlasting snows. True it is that in all cases, an astrologer in the front rank of his profession, gives good advice, kind, shrewd, disinterested and worldly-wise, yet inspired by a diviner wisdom such as the fact that he spends his life in the contemplation of the noblest phenomena of nature, that the Soul be hind them cannot but operate to bestow; true also that any astrologer of eminence can point to hundreds of people whose life , honour, and property have been preserved through his advice. But what do these facts prove? What are we to think of any man who does not cam his living honestly by gambling on Wall Street, or faking antique furniture, or adulterating the food of the people, or wrecking railroads, or manufacturing the instruments of war? Why, the fellow is a cheat, a scoundrel. The idle wretch polishes off his daily ‘evil’ in eighteen hours to squander the remaining six in the hideous debauch of sleep.

What is to be done? Thank God, degenerate as our age may be in some respect, we have a fairly efficient police system. Well, then, send a detective to the astrologer; let her go in with her eyes red with tears; let her rock with sobbing as she tells of how her only child lies dying, and all the doctors have given up hope. Perhaps the astrologer, for all the knavery and cunning which enable him to pick the pockets of so many thousand people, may be fool enough to utter a few words of comfort. Then the matter is simple; justice can be done. The police take action, and fine and imprisonment follow. The detective is complimented on the cleverness of her plans; her salary is raised and a Free People march ever onwards, singing in the sunlight, toward that City which is God.

The age is too mealy-mouthed, too sentimental, too easy-going to deal radically with crime. Even murderers nowadays have a good chance of escaping the electric chair; and the astrologer is worse than the murderer, for he touches not the mere vile body. but the pocket. We cannot avoid death, but we can die rich. There is even an added blasphemy in the crime of the astrologer, for we know of What Awful and Beneficent Being – a name too sacred to utter lightly the Dollar is the incarnation. Yet pause, there may be a good reason for the tenderness of the law toward the astrologer. It is so certain that any community can destroy its help less members, especially when they are women, by hanging them or burning them, and certain communities have a splendid record and a long experience of witch-baiting: statesmanship has abandoned these methods for others less effective on the surface, it argues some wiser consideration, some subtler motive, some nobler and loftier plan for the uplifting of the human race, than the unthinking mind can grasp.

But let us put ourselves in the position of some patriotic statesman! Here we sit, the broad and noble forehead corrugated in the agony of intense thought, the firm chin resting on the hand, the venerable beard quivering with emotions less human than divine. We brood upon the True, the Beautiful; from time to time we sigh, as we think of the Incommensurable, the Absolute, or the Greatest Good. We gaze from fearless and untroubled eyes upon the world, and the words, half-formed, die in godlike sorrow upon our lips, ‘Alas, humanity!’ And as we reflect, there comes to us the burning conviction that money is not an unmixed blessing. Prosperity tends to sap the morality of the Common People. Virtue nourishes in communities of simple manners and fades when luxury spreads her vampire wings, money may be a curse. We realise that many people do not use it wisely_ They would be better without it. For example, the class that squanders its hard-earned dollars upon the wicked astrologer. But it is not well either that the astrologer should have it. The desire of it has already led him into crime; the obtaining of it has confirmed him in that offence against the laws of God and man. Yet to suppress the astrologer – the first, rash, noble impulse of indignation still leaves the money in the hands of those people who are no doubt better off without it. A dilemma indeed! Has political wisdom no solution? A light dawns in those eyes; the brow relaxes its tension, a beatific smile hovers dove-like on those firm calm lips_ ” I will not oppress the astrologer’, so the Great Idea takes shape in glory of speech: ‘I will merely introduce a Bill to oppress him_ Then I will advise him privately that I am his True Friend, and that for just a few thousand dollars I can prevent that Bill from passing into Law. If he cannot understand the merits of this plan ~ and his brain has probably been stupefied by his devotion to his foolish quackery, in which no doubt, poor creature, he has a sincere belief – then I will prosecute him once or twice under the old mild law and get him frightened. Then, surely, he will yield, and the money will be no longer where it can only do harm, in the pockets of the Common People or the wicked Astrologer, but where it can only do good, in those of the wise and Patriotic Statesman.

If this plan has sometimes failed to work as it should, it is because the Astrologer is too often obstinately impervious to all reason and good sense, as well as to manners and good taste. He may even exclaim, malicious as a dog cornered by a gang of street urchins, that on the whole he would rather go to prison. ‘It is not very creditable, perhaps, to be at large in a country with such rulers.’ So deplorable a temper is indicative of incorrigible vice, a perversity of the soul plainly Satanic. Such people are dangerous to a State; they may perhaps hit back. Perhaps our sterner forefathers were wiser after all; perhaps we should go after the dollars of the Common People in some other way, and deal with the Astrologer by reviving the methods of the inevitable Matthew Hopkins.

Unless we can do so, and there is indeed some danger that those contemptible creatures, the Common People, might not readily acquiesce, it is to be feared that we shall see the ruin of Civilisation with its greatest glory, our unique political system, and become impotent witnesses of that catastrophe, the Triumph of Astrology. A.C.