The Rite of Saturn

The Officers of the Temple

Magister Templi, the representative of Binah, Saturn.

Mater Coeli, Venus in Libra, the house of Saturn's exaltation.

Brother Aquarius, the house of Saturn; in Chesed, because Pisces is water: Hope.

Brother Capricornus, in the throne of Capricornus, the house of Saturn; in Geburah, because Mars is exalted therein. He is Mars in Capricornus.

Brother Capricornus Emissarius.

The Leader of the Chorus, or Choragoge.

In the East is a veiled shrine, containing an altar.
To its Chokmah, Binah, Chesed, and Geburah are M. T., M. C., Bro. A., and Bro. C. respectively.
Bro C. E. is disguised as an ordinary member of the garrison.

The Rite of Saturn

Part I

Brother Capricornus enters and turns off blue light. Red lamps are brought in by Brother Capricornus and the Leader of the Chorus.

First the Temple is lighted by two red lamps.
Probationers chant the Capricornus and Aquarius sections from Liber DCCCCLXIII (963; also called "The Treasure-House of Images". See Equinox, No. III., Special Supplement) while others wait without in darkness.
Red lights are then hidden within veil.
Brother Capricornus turns on the Blue light.

The Temple being in darkness, and the assistants seated, let Brother Capricornus arise from his throne, and knock thrice with his spear-butt upon the floor.
Magister Templi in the shrine, with Mater Coeli.

Procul, O procul este profani!

He performs the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.
He next lights the hell-broth and recites:

Even as the traitor's breath
Goeth forth, he perisheth
By the secret sibilant word that is spoken unto death.

Even as the profane hand
Reacheth to the sacred sand,
Fire consumes him that his name be forgotten in the land.

Even as the wicked eye
Seeks the mysteries to spy,
So the blindness of the gods takes his spirit: he shall die.

Even as the evil priest,
Poisoned by the sacred feast,
Changes by its seven powers to the misbegotten beast:

Even as the powers of ill,
Broken by the wanded will,
Shriek about the holy place, vain and vague and terrible:

Even as the lords of hell,
Chained in fires before the spell,
Strain upon the sightless steel, break not fetters nor compel:

So be distant, O profane!
Children of the hurricane!
Lest the sword of fire destroy, lest the ways of death be plain!

So depart, and so be wise,
Lest your perishable eyes
Look upon the formless fire, see the maiden sacrifice!

So depart, and secret flame
Burn upon the stone of shame,
That the holy ones may hear music of the sleepless Name!

Holy, holy, holy spouse
Of the sun-engirdled house,
With the secret symbol burning on thy multiscient brows! ....

Even as the traitor's breath
Goeth forth, he perisheth
By the secret sibilant word that is spoken unto death.

Brethren, let us awaken the Master of the Temple.

(The Leader of the Chorus beats the tom-tom,
and the other brethren clap and stamp their feet.
No result.

Silence — it is in vain! Brethren, let us invoke the assistance of the Mother of Heaven!

(He goes to veil and reaches through with his hands.)

Mater Coeli
(Passes through Throne of Magister Templi and enters the Temple.)
Children, what is your will with me?

Mother of Heaven, we beseech thee to awaken the Master.

Mater Coeli
What is the hour?

Mother of Heaven, it lacks a quarter of midnight.

Mater Coeli
Be it unto your desire!

She plays. [Wieniawski: Kuyawiak] As she ends she kneels:
the veil slowly parts, and Magister Templi is seen standing in shrine.
He slowly enters Temple.
Mater Coeli returns to throne, having been blessed and raised by him.

Magister Templi
Mother of Heaven, beloved of the Stars, wherefore hast thou awakened the Poison of Eld, the Dweller in Eternity?

Mater Coeli

Magister Templi
(Comes down to hell-broth and recites “The Eyes of Pharaoh”.)
Dead Pharaoh’s eyes from out the tomb
Burned like twin planets ruby-red.
Enswathed, enthroned, the halls of gloom
Echo the agony of the dead.

Silent and stark the Pharaoh sate:
No breath went whispering, hushed or scared.
Only that red incarnate hate
Through pylon after pylon flared.

As in the blood of murdered things
The affrighted augur shaking skries
Earthquake and ruinous fate of kings,
Famine and desperate destinies,

So in the eyes of Pharaoh shone
The hate and loathing that compel
In death each damned minion
Of Set, the accursed lord of Hell.

Yea! in those globes of fire there sate
Some cruel knowledge closely curled
Like serpents in those halls of hate,
Palaces of the Underworld.

But in the hell-glow of those eyes
The ashen skull of Pharaoh shone
White as the moonrays that surprise
The invoking Druse on Lebanon.

Moreover pylon shouldered round
To pylon an unearthly tune,
Like phantom priests that strike and sound
Sinister sistrons at the moon.

And death’s insufferable perfume
Beat the black air with golden fans
As Turkis rip a Nubian’s womb
With damascened yataghans.

Also the taste of dust long dead
Of ancient queens corrupt and fair
Struck through the temple, subtly sped
By demons dominant of the air.

Last, on the flesh there came a touch
Like sucking mouths and stroking hands
That laid their foul alluring smutch
Even to the blood’s mad sarabands.

So did the neophyte that would gaze
Into dead Pharaoh’s awful eyes
Start from incalculable amaze
To clutch the initiate’s place and prize.

He bore the blistering thought aloft:
It blazed in battle on his plume:
With sage and warrior enfeoffed,
He rushed alone through tower and tomb.

The myriad men, the cohorts armed,
Are shred like husks: the ensanguine brand
Leaps like a flame, a flame encharmed
To fire the pyramid heaven-spanned

Wherein dead Pharaoh sits and stares,
Swathed in the wrappings of the tomb,
With eyes whose horror flits and flares
Like corpse-lights glimmering in the gloom

Till all’s a blaze, one roar of flame,
Death universal, locked and linked: —
Aha! one names the awful Name —
The twin red planets are extinct.

A pause.

The lamp burns out, and darkness covers all.

Leader of the Chorus secretly removes hell-broth vase.

Part II

The Temple in Darkness

Magister Templi
[1.] Brother Aquarius, what is the time?


Magister Templi
[1.] Brother Capricornus, what is the place?

The Fortress that is upon the Frontier of the Abyss.

Magister Templi
[1.] Brothers Aquarius and Capricornus, is the Beloved with us?

Aquarius and Capricornus
The Mother of Heaven is enthroned.

Magister Templi
Mother of Heaven, let us lament together!

Recites Swinburne's "Ilicet".

Mater Coeli plays accordingly. [Bach: Aria arr. for G string]

Magister Templi
[1.] Brother Aquarius, to what end are we assembled?

(Rises and whispers in his ear)

ALL aloud

Magister Templi
[1.] Are the brethren fed?

Upon the corpses of their children.

Magister Templi
[1.] Have they quenched their thirst?

Upon poppy-heads infused in blood.

Magister Templi
The raven has croaked.

The owl has hooted.

The bat has flapped its wings.

Magister Templi
Then …

Capricornus switches on the blue glare.

Magister Templi
[1.] Brother Aquarius, I scent danger.

[1.] Master, there are evil things abroad.
(To Capricornus)
Turn out the guard!

Brethren, stand to your arms!

All Probationers rise and follow him.
He pricks all assistants with his spear, inspects doors, etc.

Master, every man is vigilant at his post. There is no alarm.

Magister Templi
[1.] Brother Aquarius, I scent danger.

[1.] Master, there is a traitor within the gates.
(To Capricornus)
Inspect the garrison!

Brethren, purify your hearts!

He rises and looks into every eye. When he comes to Bro. Capricornus Emissarius, he hales him forth by the hair, before the altar, and plunges his spear into him.
He completes inspection. Returns and bows to Magister Templi.

Master, justice has been executed upon the traitor. Only the faithful remain.

Magister Templi
So perish all traitors!

Capricornus extinguishes light.

A pause.

Part III


(Comes forward and kneels to Magister Templi.)
Master, we beseech thee to permit the ceremony to proceed.

Magister Templi
There was no crackling in the dried leaves.

Capricornus joins Aquarius kneeling.

Aquarius and Capricornus
Master, we beseech thee to permit the ceremony to proceed.

Magister Templi
There was no heart in the black lamb.

All Probationers join Aquarius and Capricornus kneeling.

Master, we beseech thee to permit the ceremony to proceed.

Magister Templi
The sacred python was found dead.

Mater Coeli comes forward, kneels before Magister Templi, thus making the apex to the pyramid of petitioners, rises and plays her petition, [Schumann: Abendlied] then again kneels.

Magister Templi
Let the ceremony proceed.

Mater Coeli returns to her throne.
Aquarius rises, and
Capricornus returns to his post and lights the lamp.

Aquarius and all present dance wildly for joy to the sound of the tom-tom.

During the confusion Bro. Capricornus Emissarius slips into the temple and hides behind the veil, where he removes his disguise and dons his dancing robe.

Magister Templi

A pause.

Magister Templi


Magister Templi
[1.] Holy be the Lamps of Joy!

Holy be the Lamps of Sorrow!

Magister Templi
Let us enter the ark of Increased Knowledge!

Hail, thou that sittest in the City of the Pyramids!

Hail, thou that art encamped upon the Great Sea!

Magister Templi
Hail, brethren!

Master, what is Increased Knowledge?

Magister Templi

Master, what is the Ark thereof?

Magister Templi
The grave.

Aquarius and Capricornus
Master, how shall we enter it?

Magister Templi
Arise and follow me!

He rises and circumambulates the temple widdershins.
Capricornus plucks forth every third person and makes them follow him, continuing this process until one only is left.
To this one Magister Templi addresses the allocution, as he hales him forth.

Magister Templi
Thou also must die!

Magister Templi stops in E.

Magister Templi
Brethren! let us humbly seek for help behind the veil!

He throws veil open, showing the empty shrine.
Bro. Capricornus Emissarius must have well dissimulated himself so that he is not discovered.
Magister Templi draws veil again.
Capricornus puts out light.

Magister Templi
Alas! there is no God!

Returns to his throne. All move confusedly about wailing aloud.

Magister Templi
[1.] Silence.

All resume seats.

Magister Templi
Behold, I declared it unto you and ye believed me not!

A pause.

Part IV


In truth, master, the ceremony cannot proceed. There is no god in the shrine.

Magister Templi
Brother Aquarius, let search be made.

Brother Capricornus, let search be made.

Lights on.

Capricornus enters veil and walks up and down. He returns.

Lights off.

Brother Capricornus, what do you find?

Master, there is nothing but a little pile of dust.

There is no living thing therein?

There is no living thing therein.

Magister Templi
(Recites poem: “Colloque sentimental”.)
In the ancient frozen solitary park
Two figures passed anon — now mark!

Their eyes are dead, their lips are soft and grey;
One scarce can hear the words they say.

In the ancient frozen solitary park
Two ghosts evoke the past — oh hark!

Dost thou remember our old ecstasy?
Why do you wish to remind me?

Does thy heart beat still at my name, and glow?
Seest thou my soul in dreams, dear? No.

Ah! the fair days of joyance and of gree
When our mouths kissed, ah kissed! Maybe!

How blue the sky was, as our hope was clear!
Hope has gone down to Hell’s nadir.

So in the foolish alleys they conferred,
And only midnight overheard.

Master, it is not to be borne.

Magister Templi
Mother of Heaven, let us lament together!

Recites Swinburne's "The Garden of Proserpine".
Mater Coeli plays accordingly. [Wieniawski: Légende]

Master, it is not to be borne.

Magister Templi
Mother of Heaven, let us work together!

Mater Coeli
Behold thine handmaiden!

Magister Templi and Mater Coeli go together hand in hand, within the veil.

Capricornus turns light up.

Mater Coeli plays a Paean of despair. [Hauser: Wiegenlied]

Magister Templi
(Rending veil, appears standing on altar.)
O melancholy Brothers, dark, dark, dark!
O battling in black floods without an ark!
O spectral wanderers of unholy Night!
My soul hath bled for you these sunless years,
With bitter blood-drops running down like tears:
Oh, dark, dark, dark, withdrawn from joy and light!

My heart is sick with anguish for your bale!
Your woe hath been my anguish; yea, I quail
And perish in your perishing unblest.
And I have searched the heights and depths, the scope
Of all our universe, with desperate hope
To find some solace for your wild unrest.

And now at last authentic word I bring,
Witnessed by every dead and living thing;
Good tidings of great joy for you, for all:
There is no God; no Fiend with names divine
Made us and tortures us; if we must pine,
It is to satiate no Being’s gall.

It was the dark delusion of a dream,
That living Person conscious and supreme,
Whom we must curse for cursing us with life;
Whom we must curse because the life He gave
Could not be buried in the quiet grave,
Could not be killed by poison or by knife.

This little life is all we must endure,
The grave’s most holy peace is ever sure,
We fall asleep and never wake again;
Nothing is of us but the mouldering flesh,
Whose elements dissolve and merge afresh
In earth, air, water, plants, and other men.

We finish thus; and all our wretched race
Shall finish with its cycle, and give place
To other beings, with their own time-doom
Infinite aeons are our kind began;
Infinite aeons after the last man
Has joined the mammoth in earth’s tomb and womb.

We bow down to the universal laws,
Which never had for man a special clause
Of cruelty or kindness, love or hate:
If toads and vultures are obscene to sight,
If tigers burn with beauty and with might,
Is it by favour or by wrath of fate?

All substance lives and struggles evermore
Through countless shapes continually at war,
By countless interactions interknit:
If one is born a certain day on earth,
All times and forces tended to that birth,
all the world could change or hinder it.

I find no hint throughout the Universe
Of good or ill, of blessing or of curse:
I find alone Necessity Supreme;
With infinite Mystery, abysmal, dark,
Unlighted ever by the faintest spark
For us the flitting shadows of a dream.

O Brothers of sad lives! they are so brief;
A few short years must bring us all relief:
Can we not bear these years of labouring breath?
But if you would not this poor life fulfil,
Lo, you are free to end it when you will,
Without the fear of waking after death.

Blow out red lights.

Bro. Capricornus Emissarius runs out with tom-tom and dances wildly.
At the conclusion Aquarius and Capricornus run up, tearing the veil asunder.
Bro. Capricornus Emissarius flings himself at foot of altar.

Choragoge lights salt again, or other glare.
Magister Templi is discovered lying dead, his head supported by Mater Coeli weeping.

Capricornus extinguishes the light.

Aquarius draws the veil.

Mater Coeli plays the final hopeless dirge. [Waddell: Marche Funèbre]


Brother Capricornus, what is the hour?


Let us depart; it is accomplished.